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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cooler day helps crews fighting fire on mountainside southwest of Nanaimo

Firefighters making progress, but it’s ‘slow-going,’ says B.C. Wildfire Service

Nanaimo RCMP say increase in cycling opens up potential for more bike thefts

Police advise cyclists register their bikes with 529 Garage

City of Nanaimo to look at turning NDSS field into mid-size stadium

Parks and rec will begin stakeholder engagement and begin work on a phased plan for improvements

Woman arrested near Nanaimo’s Westwood Lake after road rage incidents

37-year-old woman facing charges including assault, assaulting a police officer, impaired driving

Crews work overnight to try to put out wildfire on Pender Island

Fire department and B.C. Wildfire Service crews extinguishing fire in ‘extremely difficult terrain’

Crews work overnight to try to put out wildfire on Pender Island

Fire department and B.C. Wildfire Service crews extinguishing fire in ‘extremely difficult terrain’

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Pandemic isn’t a time for tax increases

City councillors are out of touch with the taxpayers, says letter writer

New ICBC data details Nanaimo intersections with the most crashes

Old Island Highway at Bowen Road and Norwell Drive saw the most crashes in 2019

Rollout of COVID-19 Alert app faces criticism over accessibility

App requires users to have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years, and a relatively new operating system

Michael Buble among 13 British Columbians to receive Order of B.C.

Ceremony will be delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19

U.S. border communities feel loss of Canadian tourists, shoppers and friends

Restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border have been in place since March 2`

Most Read