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Cold and flu season is coming

Are you ready?

Cold and flu season is here and it’s important to prepare to help reduce the chance of outbreaks in your facility.

COVID-19 and its impact on the 2020 cold and flu season

The 2020-21 flu season last year coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated restrictions, like stay-at-home orders, virtual work and school and restrictions on travel. Perhaps because of this, in this past flu season Canada had one of the lowest rates of influenza in recent history.1 During the 2020-2021 Canadian influenza season, only 69 positive detections of influenza were reported.1

However, there is still the question of what will happen in the 2021-22 flu season, as lockdowns and other similar restrictions are lifted, and people are interacting more and more. The National Influenza report states that although it is difficult to predict when influenza will begin to recirculate, public health authorities need to remain vigilant and continue to plan for increased circulation of the flu.1

Predicted impact on the flu season this year

Usually, Canada can look to the southern hemisphere to predict what the cold and flu season might look like for us.2

The rate of flu in Australia for the 2021 flu season was extremely low.10 However, while the trends seen in the southern hemisphere may provide clues to what the northern hemisphere can expect for the approaching 2021-22 cold and flu season, we must also be careful not to make assumptions3 – factors such as lockdowns and restrictions can dramatically affect the case numbers. For example, in the spring of 2021, Australia had implemented lockdowns and restricted travel, both to and from Australia, in an effort to battle the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus, which can also prevent the spread of flu viruses.2,11 In addition, the practice of washing hands regularly and avoiding close contact with people outside of our household that was adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic is also effective at reducing the spread of flu.2

As schools and businesses reopen and people return to travel and socializing with others more frequently, some experts are predicting that we may see a return of the flu activity that we saw prior to the global pandemic.4,9 However, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) FluWatch indicates that as of mid-November, influenza activity was low across the country.12

What makes flu outbreaks so unpredictable?

Influenza A and Influenza B are the types of flu that are responsible for most outbreaks and epidemics of influenza.13 FluWatch, Canada’s national surveillance system that monitors the spread of flu, is designed to detect and respond to outbreaks, use the data and information to control the flu and make sure that the information gathered on the flu in Canada supports international flu monitoring and is ready in case of a global outbreak.13  

Guidance on flu vaccination during the COVID-19 pandemic has been developed by PHAC and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI).14

“The only predictable thing about the flu is its unpredictability.”5̶    Anna Maddison, Public Health Agency of Canada spokesperson

Prevention is key.

To help prevent outbreaks of cold and flu, proper infection prevention protocols should be in place.6,7

  • Wear masks and personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Handwashing stations with soap and water, or have hand sanitizer available
  • Practice physical distancing
  • Get vaccinated for the flu – Health Canada recommends that everyone 6 months and older get the flu shot, and you need a flu shot every year15
  • Stay home from work, or work from home when you have symptoms
  • Follow disinfecting protocols
    • Choose products that clean and disinfect hard non-porous surfaces to help prevent the spread of the viruses that can cause cold and the flu and COVID-196,7
    • Check your disinfectant to confirm that it has claims against cold and flu viruses and the COVID-19 virus6,7
    • Regularly disinfect high-traffic areas and high-touch surfaces6,7

Preparation and following cleaning and disinfecting protocols can help us prevent outbreaks of colds and flu during the 2021-22 season.

DID YOU KNOW?

The flu is one of the 10 leading causes of death in Canada8

  • Approximately 12,000 Canadians are hospitalized for the flu each year

Approximately 3,500 Canadians die from the flu virus each year

Clorox is your partner in the fight against colds and flu

The Clorox Company makes disinfecting products that are approved for hard non-porous surfaces and are effective against viruses such as cold and flu and SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. As your partners in disinfection of surfaces, you can count on us to provide the right products and equipment to help reduce the spread of germs.

Prepare for the upcoming cold and flu season by taking the appropriate preventative measures as mentioned above and having an adequate supply of cleaning and disinfection products.

To learn more, download our Cold and Flu Guide.

References

  1. Nwosu A, Lee L, Schmidt K et al. National influenza annual report Canada 2020-2021, in the global context. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/reports-publications/canada-communicable-disease-report-ccdr/monthly-issue/2021-47/issue-10-october-2021/national-influenza-annual-report-canada-2020-2021.html. Accessed November 23, 2021.
  2. B. Taylor. The return of the flu? What we can expect later this year. https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/the-return-of-the-flu-what-we-can-expect-later-this-year-1.5474307. Accessed September 30, 2021.
  3. Rubin R. What happens when COVID-19 collides with flu season? JAMA. 2020;324(10):923-25.
  4. M. Binnicker. Will flu season make a comeback? Why we’ll need Covid and flu tests this winter. https://www.forbes.com/sites/coronavirusfrontlines/2021/09/02/will-flu-season-make-a-comeback-why-well-need-covid-and-flu-tests-this-winter/?sh=25e9f6af7756. Accessed September 30, 2021.
  5. CBC News. What you need to know before flu season hits in Canada. October 12, 2019. http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/flu-shot-flu-season-1.5318796
  6. Government of Canada. Cleaning and disinfecting public spaces during COVID-19. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/cleaning-disinfecting-public-spaces.html. Accessed September 29 2021.
  7. Public Health Ontario. Cleaning and disinfection for public settings. https://www.publichealthontario.ca/-/media/documents/ncov/factsheet-covid-19-environmental-cleaning.pdf. Accessed September 30, 2021.
  8. Government of Canada. Flu (influenza): For health professionals. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/flu-influenza/health-professionals.html. Accessed September 30, 2021.
  9. M. Fox. The coming flu season may be severe. Here’s why. https://www.cnn.com/2021/06/08/health/influenza-season-doozy/index.html. Accessed September 30, 2021.
  10. A. Dow. Seasonal flu ‘nowhere to be seen’ in Australia. https://www.smh.com.au/national/seasonal-flu-nowhere-to-be-seen-in-australia-20210612-p580gk.html?js-chunk-not-found-refresh=true. Accessed September 30, 2021.
  11. CNN. Travel to Australia during COVID-19: What you need to know before you go. https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/australia-travel-covid-19/index.html. Accessed November 1, 2021.
  12. Government of Canada. Flu(influenza) FluWatch surveillance weekly influenza reports. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/flu-influenza/influenza-surveillance/weekly-influenza-reports.html. Accessed November 23, 2021.
  13. Government of Canada. Overview of influenza monitoring in Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/flu-influenza/influenza-surveillance/about-fluwatch.html Accessed November 23, 2021.
  14. Government of Canada. Canadian immunization guide chapter on influenza and statement on seasonal influenza vaccine for 2020-2021. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/vaccines-immunization/canadian-immunization-guide-statement-seasonal-influenza-vaccine-2020-2021.html. Accessed November 23, 2021.
  15. Government of Canada. Flu (influenza): Get your flu shot. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/flu-influenza/get-your-flu-shot.html?utm_source=pandemic-flu-page&utm_medium=button&utm_content=get-the-flu-shot&utm_campaign=hc-sc-seasonalflu-21-22. Accessed November 23, 2021