VICTORIA - British Columbia health officials are preparing for a possible surge of influenza infections at the same time as COVID-19 strikes this fall.
The province is offering free flu shots beginning next month for everyone six months and older, while seniors are eligible for enhanced vaccines that provide additional protection.
Officials said during a technical briefing today that pressures on the health system including staffing shortages are being factored into planning for hospital bed capacity.
This is expected to be the first season the flu has a significant comeback since pandemic restrictions dampened the spread of it and other respiratory illnesses over the past two years.
Dr. Bonnie Henry provided an update this afternoon.
Join Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, and Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, for an update on respiratory viruses including COVID-19. https://t.co/3fWuEuWQ7G— BC Government News (@BCGovNews) September 28, 2022
Officials say Omicron is expected to remain the dominant COVID-19 variant for the next few months but they do not expect it to spread or surge to the same heights seen in previous fall or winter seasons.
An official says COVID-19 is expected to surge around November through January, and she expects the flu may peak early this year around the same time, based on the experiences of Australia and New Zealand.