Throughout the sunny period of summer, Saskatchewan enjoyed tranquility, notably devoid of viral onslaughts. Yet, as we stand on the cusp of autumn’s descent, the spectres of the flu and COVID-19 hang in the air, anticipated to surge in virulence.
As children pack their school bags and summer activities retreat indoors, riding on the tailcoats of the dropping thermometer, physicians across the province foresee the inevitable resurgence of various viruses.
Results form the most recent Community Respiratory Illness Surveillance Program (CRISP) convey that the primary chunk of respiratory virus hospital admissions did not stem from COVID, Flu, or the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) between the dates of July 16 to August 12.
Indeed, RSV sank into deep hibernation during that period, indicating zero reported instances. But as the seasons begin their cyclic transition, Dr. Saqib Shahab, the Chief Medical Health Officer, prepares for a crest in COVID-19 cases.
Dr. Shahab notes that despite the low incidence of viral contagion throughout the midyear, sporadic COVID cases did emerge. Consequently, with the arrival of the change in the season, he expects a bump in COVID infection rates.
In anticipation of the feared escalation, Dr. Shahab endorses a twofold emphasis on vaccinations this season. Hereon, both the flu and the COVID-19 vaccinations can be availed by individuals aged six months and above, he enlightened.
Dr. Shahab further underscored the recommendation for those aged 50 years or more, particularly those over 65, those with co-living high-risk individuals, or individuals with underlying risk factors, to avail the COVID-19 and influenza vaccines this fall.
Experts espouse the notion that the reception of a COVID-19 booster within the past half-year diminishes the mortality risk more than trifold compared to the unvaccinated populace, and more than twofold compared to those who have not received a booster dose.
The Saskatchewan government, bracing itself for the autumn season, plans to proffer new COVID-19 monovalent vaccines, engineered to combat the more recent strains of Omicron.
Queried on whether the surge in cases will echo the pattern of previous viral waves, Dr. Shahab expressed skepticism, elaborating on how the province currently treads on dissimilar grounds than a three-year past.
He cites the fortified population, no longer vulnerable in terms of immunity, that has emerged through the wake of numerous COVID exposure suffered in the last three years. In that view, the scenario undergoing evolution forecasts COVID as one of many viral threats, a likely fall-time visitor.
As autumn fall, Saskatchewan’s residents will find the COVID-19 and influenza vaccines readily available at local pharmacies and public health clinics.