It’s the season of coughs, sniffles and aches, but it’s not just the flu. A bump in COVID numbers and lowered immunity have experts reminding Manitobans to get vaccinated.
Between Oct. 29 and Nov. 4 this year, the province reports 240 COVID-19 cases and a total of nine outbreaks.
“Numbers like this are not uncommon, severe, or shocking as we head into respiratory virus season,” said Manitoba’s top doctor, Dr. Brent Roussin.
“Certainly, earlier in the fall, we saw a climb in the numbers of COVID that we’ve seen, and that’s remained fairly stable and certainly higher than it was in May in the summer months. But we haven’t seen that translate yet into, you know, increasing severe outcomes in the hospitals as of yet.”
Professor of disease modelling at York University, Jane Heffernan, said Canadians, including Manitobans, are more vulnerable to small outbreaks — and potentially larger ones — because immunity is running low, and getting lower.
“The … overall decay of immunity is continuing in the population. In part, that’s because we are not having huge waves of COVID infection, which is good. But also, people just aren’t going and getting vaccinated,” she said.
“As of a couple of months ago, immunity is not optimal in the population. It’s leaving the population open to having small outbreaks and could be larger if people don’t go get vaccinated.”
Heffernan said it’s natural for immunity to decrease, whether it’s to coronavirus or the flu, because of our actual antibodies decaying, or because certain virus strains are emerging that are beyond antibody reach just yet.
She says vaccines are the best way to counter this.
“We don’t have enough immunity in our populations right now to stop circulation of COVID-19. So, go get that booster dose.”
After getting vaxxed or infected, your immunity will be low after 3 to 6 months, Heffernan says, encouraging getting your covid shot every half a year.
Roussin says getting it really depends what strains are kicking around, and how many outbreaks and cases there are, adding there’s a chance it might only be needed yearly, like the flu vaccine.
However, he said if it has been more than six months since your last shot, consider getting an XBB vaccination.
He recommends anyone six months and older get the vaccine, but says if you’re still recovering from COVID, you should wait until your recovery is complete.
To find out where you can get vaccinated, check out the government of Manitoba’s vaccine tracker.
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