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That's according to a recent Ipsos poll conducted for Global News, which indicates 40 per cent of people across the country do not plan on getting a COVID-19 booster shot or flu vaccine this year.
It's something the head of clinical microbiology at Saskatoon's Royal University Hospital says is "unfortunate."
"The reason that saddens me is because we just came through this horrible COVID pandemic and we saw all the devastation that it had," Dr. Joseph Blondeau tells Yahoo Canada. "Plus, we saw all the restrictions that were put in place that really restricted a lot of our life choices.
"I think people are just, unfortunately, underestimating what could be the consequences of this respiratory season ... and what the benefits of vaccination actually are."
The poll, which was released on Wednesday and surveyed 1,000 Canadians older than age 18, found 45 per cent of that group did not feel it was worth getting one. Twenty-three per cent of people within that group expressed concerns about the shot's safety; seven per cent were fully against the COVID-19 vaccine.
Out of the respondents, 60 per cent say they've already received a COVID-19 booster shot or plan on getting one — and that's the same for flu shots.
The survey's results indicated a shift in attitude, according to an infectious disease specialist at the University of British Columbia's department of medicine.
"Today, I don't think that the general population is seeing COVID as a big threat as it used to be in 2020," Dr. Horatio Bach tells Yahoo Canada. "This impression, people think 'it's just a flu.'"
Still, Bach says "we have to monitor what's going to happen," as it's currently "very hard to say 'yes' or 'it's not' going to be a problem."
What's currently happening with COVID-19, flu vaccines
Updated COVID-19 vaccines from both Moderna and Pfizer were approved by Health Canada in September. Novavax's updated shot was approved for use in the European Union on Tuesday, but Health Canada is still reviewing the vaccine.
The new mRNA vaccines — which target the XBB.1.5 Omicron subvariant — started becoming available across Canada in October, along with flu vaccines.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) recommends the updated COVID-19 shots to anyone who has either had a COVID-19 infection or a vaccination at least six months ago. That applies to anyone over 6 months old.
Flu shots are recommend to nearly everyone older than 6 months of age. That includes people who are at high risk of complications, such as pregnant people, anyone with chronic health conditions and older adults above the age of 65. For the latter group, the PHAC recommends a high-dose flu vaccine.
"People need to know that a vaccine is an intervention for prevention of disease," Blondeau says, adding there must be better messaging about these viruses. "In other words, it's an intervention that if you're immunized, [it] reduces the likelihood that should you come in contact with that particular infection ... that you would become infected to any serious degree."
Blondeau adds while viruses like COVID-19 may still be top of mind for lots of people, influenza is still a concern.
"I think influenza may have been relegated to the poor second cousin to COVID," he says. "But the reality is, influenza also can be quite deadly in people across all age groups."
Age impacts attitudes
In response to following the news about COVID-19, four in 10 people polled say they're no longer concerned about the virus. That's more common among people between the ages of 18 and 34, where 52 per cent agreed compared to 30 per cent of respondents older than age 55.
In the 18 to 34 age group, 60 per cent of people agreed they have stopped following news regarding COVID-19 and government recommendations. Among respondents older than age 55, only 40 per cent agreed.
"Younger people, the way they are if they're sick with COVID, it's not the same way if you are over 50 or if you are immunocompromised or if you have any underlying diseases because these people are still at risk," Bach notes.
On the other hand, 31 per cent of respondents aged 18 to 34 were more likely to have said they already received the COVID-19 booster. That's compared to 18 per cent in the 35 to 54 age group, and 19 per cent among people older than age 55.
"My big concern out of all of this is that we become complacent because people feel this virus is no longer a threat," Blondeau says. "The reality is that it's still a threat.
"We still need this awareness, we still need this messaging and we still need to encourage people to get out and get vaccinated."