Ontario preparing for a 'very difficult' flu season, health minister says
Health ministry says it has ordered 300,000 more high-dose flu vaccines for this year
This year's flu season will likely be a bad one, Ontario's health minister said Monday, and the province is stocking up on extra high-strength vaccines in preparation.
"We expect that it's going to be a very difficult year," Christine Elliott said after an unrelated announcement. "Based on what's happening in Australia we sort of take a look at what's likely to happen in Ontario."
Ontario has already ordered 300,000 more doses of high-dose flu vaccines than last year, bringing the total order to 1.2 million doses, said a spokesman for Elliott.
'The anti-vaxxer theory is out there'
That vaccine has four times the amount of antigens than the regular flu shot and is given to more vulnerable people, such as seniors. It can be provided in hospitals, long-term care homes and by primary care providers.
Elliott said it was proven particularly effective last year, and that the government will also be rolling out an advertising campaign, encouraging people to get the flu shot.
"It's really important to prevent it in the first place, but we also need to be prepared to deal with it when it does strike
Ontario, both in terms of hospital care, home care and community care," she said.
"We will be advertising to people that we want them to get out and get the flu shot and deal with some of the myths out there about getting the flu vaccine because ... the anti-vaxxer theory is out there as well as far as the flu vaccine is concerned, too."
No word yet on when shots will be available
Elliott did not yet have a specific date when the flu shot will be available, but she said it will be well in advance of flu season.
Researchers reported early this year that the previous flu season's vaccine appeared to be highly effective.
The analysis by researchers with the Canadian Sentinel Practitioner Surveillance Network and published online in the journal Euro Surveillance, shows it was 72 per cent effective in preventing infection with the H1N1 respiratory virus overall across all age groups.
In the 2018-19 flu season, 34 per cent of adults in Canada aged 18-64 got the flu shot, and 70 per cent of seniors got it, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.