Public health officials in Ottawa will reopen three flu clinics this coming week in response to what they are calling the worst flu season the region has seen in a decade.

There have been 160 confirmed influenza cases to date in the Ottawa region — five times higher than the same period last year —officials told the CBC's Amanda Pfeffer. The virus has been blamed for the deaths of five people — all seniors — so far this season.


Pharmacist Amira Adallah said a steady stream of people have been coming to the pharmacy complaining of flu-like symptoms. (CBC)

To date, more than 350,000 vaccines have been distributed in the city but flu vaccine clinics had already ended for this season.

On Friday, public health officials received another 10,000 doses of the vaccine as part of a special order to supplement their remaining supply.

"Demand is high," said Dr. Rosamund Lewis with Ottawa Public Health.

"We have decided to continue the clinics. Often we stop but because the demand is there, we will continue," said Lewis.

Lewis said the flu is unpredictable and hard to predict year to year.

But one of the reasons cited for the spread of various strains of the virus across Canada this year is that the number of people getting vaccinated has declined.

That's the case this year at the Ottawa Hospital, where a spokeswoman confirmed that some 43 per cent of the hospital's staff of 12,000 did not get the flu shot this year.

Three 1-day clinics

The first of three one-day clinics will open Monday from 3:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Holy Trinity Catholic High School in Kanata.

A second clinic will be open Thursday from 3:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Sir Wilfrid Laurier Secondary School in Orléans.

The third clinic will open from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 19 at a City of Ottawa Facility at 100 Constellation Dr. in Nepean.

Flu shots are also available through family physicians, or at one of 40 pharmacies across the city offering the vaccine this year.

Pharmacist Amira Adallah said allowing pharmacies to distribute the vaccine has been a success, but said for many of her customers, it's already too late.

"Every hour I'm seeing somebody sick," said Adallah.