Thursday, 24 January, 2019

Flu season surging and likely not at peak in Canada, doctors say

The flu vaccine is drawn from the vile into the needle at Crawford Kids Clinic in Aurora Colorado The flu vaccine is drawn from the vile into the needle at Crawford Kids Clinic in Aurora Colorado. Brent Lewis—Denver Post via Getty Images
Anna Jefferson | 10 January, 2019, 07:56

Those in at-risk groups include people aged 65 and over, pregnant women and people with chronic illness.

So far this season there have been 13 pediatric deaths associated with influenza and experts are urging both adults and children to get vaccinated.

An estimated 80,000 people died during the 2017-2018 flu season, according to the CDC.

Ottawa Public Health offers flu shots, by appointment, for children under five (613 580-6744).

Nearly half the cases in Ontario are the H1N1 strain which affects children, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada report. In the last week there were 16 hospitalizations, bringing the season's total to 53.

Last season at that point, 11,275 cases of lab-confirmed flu had been reported.

No other details regarding the child's death have been released at this time.

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New Brunswick's peak might come somewhat sooner, as cases there began spreading in late November.

As of December 29, New Brunswick had 579 lab-confirmed cases, 577 of them influenza A and two of influenza B. Of those, 71 people were hospitalized, 15 were admitted to the ICU and there were three deaths.

Dr. Walshak says it's not too late to get the flu shot.

While last season's vaccine turned out to be a poor match for the circulating strains - especially for the prevailing H3N2 type - the 2018-2019 flu shot is expected to be far more effective in preventing the infectious disease. "This year, the predominant strain we're seeing is H1N1", Shahab said.

"While most people will get better themselves from flu, anyone who is concerned about their condition should telephone their GP or an out of hours medical service so they can arrange to be treated in a way that does not put others at risk", he explained.

"Don't linger. Run, do not walk, and get your influenza vaccine because it does take 10 days to 2 weeks for the body to build up its maximum protection", said Schaffner.

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