Doctors to give free flu shots this fall, as N.L. health officials set for COVID-19 update at 2 p.m. NT

People looking for flu shots this fall will be able to get them free from their family doctor, the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association announced Wednesday, just hours ahead of the provincial government’s weekly live pandemic update.

Doctors will once again be allowed to bill MCP to administer the vaccines in an attempt to increase uptake, as the NLMA advises everyone over the age of six months to get the shot.

Wednesday’s announcement reverses the decision the province made in 2017 to no longer fund the shots via family doctors. In a press release, the NLMA said the province made the reversal “on a temporary basis for the current flu season,” although the association would like to see it made a permanent change.

According to the provincial government, about 138,000 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians received the flu shot in 2018. 

“Family doctors will provide a huge and immediate increase in the health-care system’s capacity to deliver flu shots,” Dr. Lynette Powell, the president of the NLMA, said in a press release.

Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, the province’s chief medical officer of health, and Health Minister John Haggie are expected to speak more about the change, as well as answer reporters’ questions in the weekly COVID-19 briefing, which will be live-streamed on the government’s YouTube channel starting at 2 p.m. NT.

As of Tuesday, the province had not recorded a new case of COVID-19 for four straight days, with one active case in the province, with an overall caseload of 272. 

There had been 38,527 tested for the virus in the province as of Tuesday.

As of Wednesday all departing travellers at St. John’s International Airport will have their temperatures checked, similar to the process seen here at Vancouver International Airport. (YVR)

Airport changes

Wednesday also marks the first day of mandatory temperature checks for all departing travellers at St. John’s International Airport. Non-passengers entering secure areas of the airport will also have their temperatures checked.

If a person records a temperature above 38 C on two possible readings, they will not be permitted to enter any airport screening in Canada for two weeks. There are exemptions permitted to the rule provided there is an accompanying doctor’s note explaining that a high temperature is unrelated to COVID-19.

Airports across Atlantic Canada have reported a steep drop in traffic for spring and summer travel, with travel down 92 per cent from April to August compared with the same time frame in 2019.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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