Now that the back-to-school bustle is behind us and cold weather is creeping closer, it’s time to take care of an important item on your autumn to-do list: update your vaccinations. A few years ago, the conversation started and ended with getting a flu shot, but these days, it’s a bit more complicated.
Here’s a quick rundown of who needs what vaccine this autumn.
There are two vaccines that everyone aged six months and older should get this fall: the latest COVID-19 shot, which targets the XBB 1.5 subvariant that is currently circulating in Canada, and the influenza (flu) shot. In Nova Scotia, you can get COVID-19 shots at community pharmacies and in some health-care facilities; flu shots are available at pharmacies and doctor’s offices. Nova Scotians with a valid health card can get both of these vaccines for free. New this year, Nova Scotians over age 65 can now receive the high-dose influenza vaccine for free. This vaccine contains a bigger dose and is recommended for older Nova Scotians.
Nova Scotians can now use the CanImmunize portal to sign up for one or both recommended vaccinations, individually or at the same time (it’s safe and effective). All you need to register is a valid Nova Scotia health card and a phone number. If you’d rather receive your flu shot from your family physician, family practice nurse or nurse practitioner, call your family practice directly.
In addition to the regularly scheduled vaccines for kids under age five, kids over six months of age should also receive a flu shot each year. The first year your child gets a flu shot, they’ll need two doses. COVID-19 vaccines are also recommended for kids in this age bracket. Some children who were born prematurely or who have other health conditions may also qualify for a vaccine that protects against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV); your pediatrician or family physician will be able to tell you if your child qualifies.
Students in Grade 7 receive four free immunizations, including hepatitis B, human papillomavirus (HPV), meningitis, and tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis. The diseases these vaccinations prevent can be serious. The school-based immunization program is organized by Nova Scotia Public Health. Learn more here.
People over 50
Older people, especially seniors with chronic conditions, have a longer list of recommended vaccinations. In addition to the COVID-19 and flu shots that everyone should get, consider the following:
- Shingrix – The shingles vaccine will help protect you against this painful condition and is available to anyone over 50. This vaccine may be covered by your personal health insurance; check with your provider.
- Arexvy – This new vaccine for RSV that was just approved for use in Canadians over 60.
- Prevnar 20, Pneumovax 23 – There are different pneumonia vaccines; talk to your primary care provider to learn which is appropriate for you.
- T-Dap – This shot protects against tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis, and should be administered to every person at least once in adulthood, and to pregnant people with each pregnancy.
Want to know more about why vaccination matters for everyone, not just kids? Check out this guide from Health Canada.