Sask. health officials can't confirm yet whether the flu shot is working

Saskatchewan health officials say it’s too early to confirm whether or not the flu shot is working this year.

There have been three confirmed deaths related to this year's influenza season

Dr. Denise Werker, deputy chief medical officer with the Government of Saskatchewan, says there's not much different about this year's flu season compared to last year. (Kirk Fraser/CBC News)

Despite concerns that the flu shot isn't working this year, Saskatchewan health officials say it's too early to confirm that notion.

Through the week of Jan. 6, total confirmed cases of the flu sit at 1,029 since Sept. 1. The same reporting time last year totalled 590.

On the same scale, there have been 33 outbreaks in long-term health facilities, in comparison with only nine last year.

Because this year's influenza activity period began earlier than last year, the health ministry says, the year-to-year numbers are like comparing apples to oranges.

Until the full activity period has ended, the government won't compare numbers.

"I just want to provide some reassurance that what we're seeing in respect to influenza, at least in Canada, is not unusual, in general," said Dr. Denise Werker, deputy chief medical officer with the government of Saskatchewan.

She said the only oddity about this year's activity is that both A and B strains are present at this time. The B strain typically appears later in the season.

The two strains have different genetic makeups and trigger different immune responses in varied age demographics.

Influenza activity has likely peaked

Influenza periods usually last 10 to 12 weeks. They typically start at the beginning of October and run until March.

"We think that the maximum amount of influenza activity likely peaked in the last week of December," Werker said.

The government continues to encourage people to get vaccinated.