‘The flu is our biggest concern,’ says Renfrew’s top doctor

Heading into a busy and social holiday period, Renfrew County’s top doctor says despite a triple threat of infectious diseases spreading, the flu is his new top priority.

“It’s much more important to get a flu shot right now,” says Dr. Robert Cushman, the county’s acting medical officer of health.

“If you’re someone who’s well vaccinated against COVID and with the lull in COVID activity right now, the flu between now and New Year’s Day is our biggest concern.”

The acknowledgement comes shortly after Cushman made a call on the province to reinstate a mask mandate.

“I had real concerns that we were going to jeopardize Christmas, the holiday season, the economy, the fun we have,” Cushman tells CTV News.

“The real concern is the flu (now), and of course our flu shot rate is very low. We haven’t seen the likes of the flu since 2018.”

Until recently, Cushman’s concern for much of November was a labelled ‘tripledemic’ of COVID, the flu, and RSV, which led to renewed calls for masking.

“Let’s do it for 10 to 14 days so we don’t jeopardize the holiday season,” he said.

“If we decided to mask 10 days ago, maybe we could have called it off within the next three or four days.”

Since the tripledemic scare, Cushman says case counts have plateaued, relaxing his calls for more aggressive masking.

“It looks like we’ve dodged a bullet more so by good fortune than by any measures on our part.”

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