A joint statement from the Hastings Prince Edward Ontario Health Team, Quinte Health and Hastings Prince Edward Public Health
This year, health care leaders in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties have joined together to urge local residents to take key actions to reduce the spread of illness as we approach the cold, flu, and COVID-19 season.
Evidence suggests that the fall and winter of 2022/23 will be challenging for multiple reasons:
- COVID-19 continues to circulate in the community, reinforcing the need to stay up-to-date with recommended booster vaccines;
- Many residents have not received an annual influenza vaccine throughout the pandemic;
- Community immunity to cold and flu has lessened due to lack of exposure over the last two seasons;
- The healthcare system is already under incredible strain.
Each year, the spread of respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19, flu, and the common cold peaks around the end of December and beginning of January. This year, because of lessened immunity, outdated vaccination status, and existing strain on the healthcare system, we are urging local residents to take small steps to keep the health of our community a priority. When it comes to protecting one another, we can each take small steps that make a big difference in the community. We’re stronger together.
“As we begin to move on from the pandemic, it continues to be important to follow public health precautions because they work to limit the spread of all respiratory illness, including colds, influenza, and COVID-19,” says Dr. Ethan Toumishey, Medical Officer of Health and CEO at HPEPH. “This year, residents are encouraged to get the influenza vaccine when it becomes available, and to stay up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccines, to reduce their risk of severe illness and to reduce the risk of spreading illness to others.”
In the coming months, take steps to:
- Protect yourself and your family –> stay up-to-date with your COVID-19 and flu vaccines to reduce your risk. Wash your hands often.
- Protect the vulnerable –> stay home when you have symptoms of illness and wear a mask if you are recovering from illness. These steps will limit the spread of colds, the flu, and COVID-19, protecting the vulnerable and the health care services that we all rely on.
- Protect our health care services –> Do what you can to limit the spread of illness and reduce your risk of severe illness to help ensure our health care workers are available for those who need them most.
“Help us care for those who need it most,” urges Stacey Daub, President and CEO of Quinte Health. “While our doctors, nurses and support teams are at our hospitals, ready to provide unwavering care, we continue to rely on our communities for assistance. Please keep emergency rooms for emergencies. For mild or moderate cold and flu symptoms, or other non-urgent conditions, consider accessing other care options – call your family doctor, visit a walk-in clinic, or access virtual care. Let’s prioritize our health as a community – we are stronger together.”
We have been working diligently to keep the community safe over the past two years. Now, we’re once again appealing to the community to help protect each other. This means protecting yourself, your family, the vulnerable, and our health care workers.