Ottawa

Get vaccine now before flu season peaks, health officials urge

Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa's medical officer of health, says three recent lab-confirmed influenza cases mean it's a 'great time' for people to book that flu shot appointment.

There have been 3 lab-confirmed cases of influenza in Ottawa and one outbreak

People who live, work or attend school in Ottawa can get their flu vaccine at their health care providers’ office, family doctor, or participating pharmacies. Ottawa Public Health will also be holding flu clinics starting Nov. 2. (Robert Short/CBC)

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is urging people to get vaccinated as flu season in the capital kicks off.

According to the health agency, there have been three lab-confirmed cases of influenza in Ottawa this season, as well as an outbreak earlier this week at the Richmond Lodge retirement facility that's now over.

"This is a great time for people to plan that vaccination appointment," said Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa's medical officer of health. "The peak of the illness is usually later in December."

Etches said OPH has distributed over 90,000 doses of the flu vaccine to family doctors, hospitals and nurse practitioners, while pharmacies receive their doses directly from the government.

She said although pharmacies are a convenient place for families to get their shot, they don't immunize children under five.

"In that case, your options are to see your family doctor or your nurse practitioner or look up our clinics," said Etches.

Dr. Vera Etches says flu season is starting to pick up in Ottawa, with several cases already confirmed.  0:46

OPH flu clinics get underway on Nov. 2. and are located throughout the city. However, the flu vaccine this year will not be available in nasal spray form anywhere in the country, which means children will have to get a shot.

"We'll support you through it if you come to one of our clinics," said Etches. "Our nurses are very good at calming children."

Widespread vaccine delays

Ontario has been grappling with distribution delays for the vaccine, which means some people will have to wait a little longer to get their shot.

According to the province, the issue stems from the World Health Organization taking longer to identify the common influenza strains circulating this year. 

Meanwhile, the province's busiest children's hospital said it's preparing for heavy patient loads as a result of the pressures to emergency services that the flu season brings.

In fact, CHEO said it's not ruling out the possibility of sending some young patients to other hospitals for treatment

With files from Adam Carter and Amanda Pfeffer

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