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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For every flu shot administered at London Drugs, a life-saving vaccine will be donated to a child in another part of the world

Survey: Amid COVID-19, Flu Shot Importance and Intentions Spike
Among British Columbians

Vast majority in the province:

  • Say they plan to get a flu shot this year: 72%, up ten points from 2019.
  • Agree that the flu shot is more important than ever this year: 71%
  • Think the flu shot is important now to lessen the potential burden on healthcare resources: 79%
  • Feel it is important to do whatever they can to prevent illness during the pandemic: 79%
  • Are concerned about their health and the health of their family right now given the unpredictability of COVID-19 circulating at the same time as flu: 84%
  • Are more aware of the importance of protecting the most vulnerable from viruses/flu: 86%.
  • Believe that mask-wearing, proper hand-washing and social distancing should lead to fewer cases of flu as well, but they are not substitutes for the flu vaccine: 86%

SEPTEMBER 29, 2020, VANCOUVER, BC – The unpredictability of COVID-19 circulating at the same time as the flu has changed perceptions about the importance of vaccination and has far more British Columbians planning to get an influenza immunization this year. A new survey conducted by Insights West on behalf of London Drugs, finds that seven in ten (72%) say they will roll up their sleeve – a whopping ten-point increase compared to last year – with most (69%) planning to get immunized as soon as the vaccine becomes available. A majority (84%) in the province indicate that they are concerned about their health and the health of their family right now given the unpredictability of COVID-19 circulating at the same time as the flu virus.

“The unique circumstances surrounding the approaching influenza season have many more people focused on protecting themselves, their families, and vulnerable members of the community from the double threat of the flu and COVID-19,” says Chris Chiew, General Manager of Pharmacy at London Drugs. “The flu shot is safe, and it is the most effective tool we have in protecting against influenza, preventing the spread and, ultimately, it can save lives.”

The survey, found that almost nine in ten (86%) in the province say that as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, they are now more aware of the importance of protecting the most vulnerable members of the community from viruses like the flu. Eight in ten (79%) agree that it is important to do whatever they can to prevent illness during the pandemic, including getting the flu shot. Given that flu symptoms are similar to COVID-19, seven in ten (71%) say the flu shot is more important than ever.

To help support public health maximize vaccination rates in the province while keeping patients safe, London Drugs has implemented a new appointment system. Patients must now book a flu shot appointment online. The new system allows patients to complete the consent form online and sends an appointment confirmation email. It is designed to help control patient flow, provide an opportunity to screen for illness/exposure to COVID-19, and ensure that pharmacists can administer the vaccine efficiently. To ensure physical distancing and eliminate wait times or line ups, flu shots will not be available on a walk-in basis this year.

“Patients need to book an appointment online and, when coming into the pharmacy, take the same precautions they take when they run other essential errands – wear a mask, physically distance from others while at the pharmacy, and wash your hands frequently. Particularly as flu season approaches, we are urging anyone experiencing flu-like or respiratory symptoms to stay home. Even mildly ill patients should not visit the pharmacy,” says Chiew.

Even more reasons to get immunized at London Drugs: Get a flu shot, give a life-saving vaccine

The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends the flu shot for everyone over the age of 6 months, including those who are healthy. This year London Drugs is providing added incentive to get immunized: For every flu shot administered at any London Drugs location, a life-saving vaccine will be donated to UNICEF Canada to help vaccinate children in a developing countries against tetanus, polio or measles. The vaccination donation campaign is in partnership with I Boost Immunity (IBI), an online immunization advocacy network.

“Flu and coronavirus share common symptoms but there’s one big difference:  a vaccine exists to prevent the flu – which is reason enough to get one. On top of that, by getting vaccinated at London Drugs, you will not only be protecting yourself and your local community during this critical time, but you will be helping to provide a life-saving vaccination to children in need in another part of the world,” says Chiew.

Among those who say they will get a flu shot this year, about half (51%) plan to visit a pharmacy. The next most common locations are a doctor (19%) or the workplace (9%) though this number was down significantly compared to last year (16% in 2019), perhaps a reflection of fewer people working in offices due to pandemic-related closures.

Other Survey Highlights: Lingering misconceptions about the flu shot among British Columbians

Despite the willingness of most to get one, there are some lingering concerns and misconceptions about the flu shot in the province, with a small majority (62%) indicating they feel the flu vaccination can have negative side effects. One-quarter (23%) still mistakenly believe you can catch the flu from the vaccine.

Among those unlikely to get a flu shot this year, four in ten (37%) say they are healthy, so don’t think they need one.  One in three don’t believe it is effective or only works for previous strains (34%). About a quarter (24%) say they prefer to use “natural” or homeopathic or alternative treatments instead. One in five (22%) say they tend to forget or don’t get around to it, don’t feel the flu is serious (17%) or don’t think they need one because they are not around a lot of people or vulnerable people (17%).

COVID-19 is also playing a role among those who are unlikely to get a flu shot this year, with three in ten (29%) indicating they won’t get one because they feel the current social distancing and mask-wearing practices in place this year make them less concerned about getting the flu.

“Even healthy individuals – even those taking precautions like wearing masks and washing hands  –  should get a flu shot because the higher the rate of vaccination, the greater the protection for the most vulnerable individuals like the elderly and young children who are more susceptible to flu-related complications that can lead to serious health problems or death,” says Chiew.

Overall, eighty-five per cent (85%) of British Columbians feel that mask-wearing, proper hand-washing and social distancing should lead to fewer cases of flu as well. Still, they agree that the precautions are no substitution for getting the flu vaccine.

This year’s flu season presents an added challenge for frontline healthcare workers, especially if a jump in COVID-19 cases overlaps with a flu outbreak. British Columbians recognize their responsibility to help reduce this risk, with eight in ten (79%) indicating they feel it is important to get a flu shot this year to prevent flu-related burden on healthcare resources. Still, one quarter (24%) say they are personally afraid or are afraid to bring their child for a flu shot because they are concerned about potential exposure to coronavirus.

“The pandemic has emphasized the importance of working together to protect each other and the most vulnerable from illness, including flu. That will be a lasting legacy of the health crisis we’ve all faced with COVID-19,” says Chiew.

Patients can visit LondonDrugs.com/flu to sign up to be notified by email as soon as flu shot appointments are available at London Drugs. Flu shot appointments must be booked online due to COVID-19 transmission prevention practices and physical distancing measures.

ABOUT THE SURVEY
Results are based on an online study conducted by Insights West from September 8-14, 2020 among a sample of 638 British Columbian adults 18 years of age and older. The data has been weighted according to 2016 Canadian Census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error (which measures sample variability is +/3.9%, 19 times out of 20. Any discrepancies between totals are due to rounding.

ABOUT LONDON DRUGS
Founded in 1945, B.C.-based London Drugs has 80 stores in more than 35 major markets throughout British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba including its online store www.LondonDrugs.com. London Drugs offers consumers a range of products from digital cameras and cosmetics to computers and televisions. Renowned for its creative approach to retailing, the company employs more than 7,500 people with pharmacy and health care services being the heart of its business. Committed to innovation and superior customer service, London Drugs has established itself as a reputable and caring company and continues to position itself for future growth and development.

Pharmacists are available for interviews. For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Wendy Hartley
Wendy@HartleyPR.com 604.817.2758