Island Health and pharmacies across Vancouver Island are preparing for the upcoming flu season. (Photo courtesy of Island Health)

Flu season arrives early on Vancouver Island

Island Health officials recommending getting the flu shot sooner rather than later

The flu vaccine’s arrival on Vancouver Island may be delayed for some, but the virus itself arrived several weeks ago.

Island Health has said some adult flu vaccine shipments were delayed this year but have begun to arrive in health units.

Flu season typically begins in late December and lasts until April, but according to the Public Health Agency of Canada’s weekly influenza reports, several regions in Western Canada were reporting influenza activity ranked as localized or sporadic by week 40 – Sept. 29 to Oct. 5.

The influenza activity levels are categorized into five categories: no data, no activity, sporadic activity, localized activity and widespread activity.

READ ALSO: Flu shots are delayed, no shortage reported: Island Health

In the no activity stage, there are no positive laboratory results for influenza in the time period, but influenza-like-illness (ILI) could still be reported. A region classified as having sporadic activity will have no outbreaks but some positive lab results for ILI. Localized activity is classified as having evidence of ILI, positive laboratory tests for the virus and outbreaks in schools, hospitals or other facilities in less than 50 per cent of the region. Areas deemed to have widespread activity will see increasing evidence of influenza and outbreaks occurring in 50 per cent or more of facilities in the region.

According to the weekly influenza reports, in weeks 37 and 38 – Sept. 8 to 21 – no influenza activity was reported on Vancouver Island. But by weeks 39 and 40, localized activity had been reported in the region.

In mid-October, the activity dropped to sporadic but had since returned to the localized level.

According to data from the BC Centre for Disease Control, at this time in 2018, influenza activity was low in October and remained that way until activity increased in mid-November.

Medical health officers have acknowledged flu season has arrived early this year, said Island Health spokesperson Cheryl Bloxham. The officers are encouraging Island residents to get vaccinated in the next few weeks. While delays have affected the availability of adult flu vaccines, Bloxham emphasized that shipments are arriving every Thursday.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know before getting the flu shot

Medical health officer Dr. Paul Hasselback told Black Press Media the vaccines that had been ordered would all arrive by Nov. 14.

“There will be plenty of vaccines for everyone,” he added.

Influenza A (H3N2) remains the most common strain of the influenza virus in Canada this year. The 2019-2020 vaccine will protect against this strain and two others, so physicians are recommending getting vaccinated before the end of November.

The Influenza Activity Levels Across Canada map can be accessed on the Government of Canada website. Updates for week 43 and 44 had not been released by press time.


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

Victim of downtown Courtenay assault dies from injuries

Person of interest identified by RCMP

North Island College’s annual 3-Hour Fiction Contest returns

Two competitions; one for adults, one for U-18 writers

Comox Valley’s drinking water within lead guidelines, say staff

Residents with old homes may still want testing if concerned about pipes, solder

Denman ferry cable to be replaced with plastic cable – for now

The first flattened steel strand cable is expected to be installed late summer 2020

Cumberland holds off transfer of ‘alleyway’ property to homeowner

Village cites need to protect alleyways, while staff cite encroachment issues

VIDEO: UBC exchange students offered $1,000 to help with leaving Hong Kong

The university said 31 of its students were attending four universities in Hong Kong

Comox Fire Rescue donates defibrillator to St. George’s United Church

Comox fighters have donated an automatic external defibrillator (AED) to St. George’s… Continue reading

My Tech Guys celebrates 13 years in the Comox Valley

On Friday, Nov. 22 My Tech Guys will be holding their annual… Continue reading

Woman calls 911 to say she was late for train, asks Ontario police for ‘emergency ride’

Peel Regional Police received more than 180,000 improper calls so far this year

It could take you 218 years to save up for a house in this B.C. neighbourhood

It would take 27 years in the most affordable city in the Lower Mainland

Trailblazing First Nations artist passing on trade to students at NIC

Leanne Helin learned hand engraving from her older brother

‘Actors can play any roles’: Debate over ‘colour-blind’ casting after Victoria lawsuit

Tenyjah Indra McKenna filed a complaint over racially-motivated casting

Infants more vulnerable to measles than previously thought: Canadian study

Babies typically don’t receive the measles vaccine until they are 12 months old

Shatner, Obomsawin among 39 inductees to Order of Canada today

Shatner is being given one of Canada’s highest civilian honours for his 60-year career

Most Read