Flu season ramps up, health officials urging people to get vaccinated

By Tanya Cronin
January 23, 2018 - 4:52pm Updated: January 23, 2018 - 5:22pm

KAMLOOPS — The number of flu cases continues to spike, suggesting the peak of the season could still be a few weeks away. Influenza is taking a growing toll of lives across Canada, health officials saying it's one of the worst flu seasons they've seen in years and are especially concerned about the risk to seniors. This year's virus is particularly agressive and doctors are urging everyone to get vaccinated, as it's not too late.     

Nearing its peak, the flu is having a devestating impact right across the country. Over 23,000 cases confirmed in Canada, with more than 2100 hospitalizations.
"Every year we do see fatalities, we have seen fatalities related to influenza this year," says Dr. Karin Goodison, medical health officer with Interior Health

So far this season, Interior Health has seen 637 lab confirmed cases of influenza with more expected. The bug hitting seniors the hardest, sweeping through care facilities everywhere and claiming lives. Doctors say influenza A or H3N2 is dominating this flu season, it hit earlier and is more severe in older adults.

"What's different about this season than other seasons is typically we'll see influenza A early in the season and B will show or peak a little bit later in the season, this year we're getting them both at the same time, so that's pretty unique," says Dr. Goodison. 

The two strains resulting in care home outbreaks, and more emergency room visits. A trend that seems to be playing out nationwide. 

"People who are most at risk are those with chronic health conditions, pregnant women and children under the age of two," says Jessi Minnabarriet, public health nurse, Interior Health.

Symptoms of the flu are quite significant and include a fever, body aches and chills, a headache and sore throat. Public Health officials say along with the flu shot, there are ways to protect yourself and those around you.

"Really make sure you have a good hand wash, if you're going to be coughing and sneezing cough and sneeze into your arm, if you use tissue, blow your nose and throw it away right away, don't leave it on the counter, make sure you're drinking lots of water," says Minnabarriet.

Flu viruses are always changing and difficult to predict, but doctors say it's not too late to get a flu vaccine. With the flu epidemic a mix of two strains circulating, everyone is being urged to roll up their sleeves.

"Even if it's not working as effectively as we hoped for other parts of it, it still does offer protection, that's really our big push is to keep people out of hospital, to keep people out of the ICU and to keep people from dying," says Dr. Goodison

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