New Brunswick has the fewest number of cases of the flu across Canada so far this season, says the province's deputy chief medical officer of health.

Dr. Denis Allard, said most of the cases in New Brunswick appear to be the H3N2 strain, which produces severe symptoms.


Dr. Denis Allard says the flu strain H3N2 produces severe symptoms. (CBC)

He said people should get the flu shot if they haven't already.

"It looks like the variety of the strains that are included in the vaccine are the ones that are circulating right now so we would expect a good protection as long as people have been vaccinated at least 10 days prior to being exposed," said Allard.

There have been 55 confirmed cases of the flu in New Brunswick to date, said Allard.

"Certainly the provinces in the west seems to have gotten the early curve of it and we are more at the tail end," he said.

"However, we had just a little bit of activity prior to the Christmas break, just around 15 positive cases reported to us, but since then we've had about 40 more and it seems to be of the H3N2 variety."

According to Health Canada, there were around 3,500 cases of influenza in the country as of Dec. 15. By the same time in 2011, there were only 182 cases.

The flu typically strikes any time between November and April, with a peak somewhere near the end of January.


New Brunswick offers the flu shot for free to several groups of people who are considered at high risk. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

New Brunswick offers the flu shot for free to adults and children with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and cancer; people in nursing homes and other chronic care facilities; people aged 65 and over; healthy children aged six months to 18 years of age; pregnant women; Aboriginal people and anyone capable of transmitting the flu to those considered at high risk for complications, including death.

Immunization is available through primary care providers, public health nurses, certified pharmacists, the Victorian Order of Nurses and some workplaces.

In October, half of New Brunswick's supply of the flu vaccine was put on hold, pending a review by Health Canada after clumping particles were discovered in some batches in Europe.

About 50,000 doses of the Agriflu vaccine, manufactured by Novartis, had already been distributed across the province at that time, with no reported ill-effects, officials had said.

The vaccine was deemed safe to use on Oct. 31.

New Brunswick gets about 260,000 flu vaccine doses a year.