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Experts recommend getting flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine simultaneously

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Flu shots and the latest COVID-19 vaccine are now available to the public ages six months or older.

Craighurst Residents Bill and Ruth Ross were first in line to get their vaccinations Monday morning.

"I just think it's a safe precaution for everybody," said Ruth as she received her flu shot.

"The demand for flu increased when the pandemic started before we had the other vaccines. This is the best defence against getting the flu. So by vaccinating, you're doing the most you can to prevent getting the virus," said Craighurst Guardian Pharmacist Brad Bochek.

Experts say it's more critical for those most vulnerable to get immunized, including seniors, young children, and those immune compromised.

Bochek said the best ways to prevent getting sick include the usual precautions, "if you're out in tight spaces, you may want to use a mask. If you are out in public, the best thing is still to wash your hands."

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) said it's safe and recommended to get both shots simultaneously.

The COVID-19 XBB vaccine protects against the new Omicron XBB variant.

"The language has changed a little bit. Because it is a new formulation, technically, it is considered a new vaccine. So it's not considered actually a booster, but it is doing the same thing by giving us protection to the strains that we are seeing in the community right now," says SMDHU Immunization Program Manager Mary Anne Holmes.

Another respiratory virus that tends to increase in the fall is respiratory syncytial virus (RSV.

Health Canada has approved an RSV vaccine for people aged 60 and older.

"In the province of Ontario, it's going to be offered free, publicly funded for residents of long-term care homes, elder-care lodges and some of our retirement home residents. The vaccine is available for people to purchase as well through their local pharmacy if they're interested in that," noted Holmes.

The cost of the vaccine is $300.

There are over 140 pharmacies in Simcoe Muskoka that offer flu and COVID-19 vaccines. The health unit will run COVID-19 vaccination clinics in the community as well.

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