Ottawa

Not too late to get flu shot, health officials say

Although the flu season started early, health officials are still encouraging people to get vaccinated to protect both themselves and the vulnerable.

Despite early start to 2018-2019 flu season, vaccine still offers benefit

According to Ottawa Public Health, there have been two influenza-related deaths this season. (Kate Adach/CBC)

Despite the early start to the flu season, health officials are still encouraging people to get vaccinated to protect both themselves and the vulnerable.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said that while flu season ordinarily begins around Christmas and New Year's, this time it started five weeks early.

"Normally we ask people to get vaccinated in October, early November, ahead of the influenza season," Tam said.

The dominant strain of flu circulating this year is H1N1, which has circulated around the globe since emerging in 2009, said Tam. 

2 deaths in Ottawa

According to Ottawa Public Heath (OPH), H1N1 was also the dominant influenza strain during the 2013-2014 and 2015-2016 seasons.

As for the current season, the health authority said there have been 79 cases of lab-confirmed influenza in Ottawa between Sept. 1, 2018 and Jan. 2, 2019.

There were also two influenza-related deaths involving people 65 and older, OPH said.

"My recommendation is go get the flu shot. The influenza season is in full swing at the moment in Canada," Tam said.

"Especially if you're elderly. This strain also impacts younger kids [and] not enough Canadians with underlying medical conditions are getting vaccinated."

In the capital, more than 300 family doctors can provide the flu shot, as well as more than 200 pharmacies.