Island Health and pharmacies across Vancouver Island are preparing for the upcoming flu season. (Photo courtesy of Island Health)

Flu season arrives early on Vancouver Island

Island Health officials recommending getting the flu shot sooner rather than later

The flu vaccine’s arrival on Vancouver Island may be delayed for some, but the virus itself arrived several weeks ago.

Island Health has said some adult flu vaccine shipments were delayed this year but have begun to arrive in health units.

Flu season typically begins in late December and lasts until April, but according to the Public Health Agency of Canada’s weekly influenza reports, several regions in Western Canada were reporting influenza activity ranked as localized or sporadic by week 40 – Sept. 29 to Oct. 5.

The influenza activity levels are categorized into five categories: no data, no activity, sporadic activity, localized activity and widespread activity.

READ ALSO: Flu shots are delayed, no shortage reported: Island Health

In the no activity stage, there are no positive laboratory results for influenza in the time period, but influenza-like-illness (ILI) could still be reported. A region classified as having sporadic activity will have no outbreaks but some positive lab results for ILI. Localized activity is classified as having evidence of ILI, positive laboratory tests for the virus and outbreaks in schools, hospitals or other facilities in less than 50 per cent of the region. Areas deemed to have widespread activity will see increasing evidence of influenza and outbreaks occurring in 50 per cent or more of facilities in the region.

According to the weekly influenza reports, in weeks 37 and 38 – Sept. 8 to 21 – no influenza activity was reported on Vancouver Island. But by weeks 39 and 40, localized activity had been reported in the region.

In mid-October, the activity dropped to sporadic but had since returned to the localized level.

According to data from the BC Centre for Disease Control, at this time in 2018, influenza activity was low in October and remained that way until activity increased in mid-November.

Medical health officers have acknowledged flu season has arrived early this year, said Island Health spokesperson Cheryl Bloxham. The officers are encouraging Island residents to get vaccinated in the next few weeks. While delays have affected the availability of adult flu vaccines, Bloxham emphasized that shipments are arriving every Thursday.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know before getting the flu shot

Medical health officer Dr. Paul Hasselback told Black Press Media the vaccines that had been ordered would all arrive by Nov. 14.

“There will be plenty of vaccines for everyone,” he added.

Influenza A (H3N2) remains the most common strain of the influenza virus in Canada this year. The 2019-2020 vaccine will protect against this strain and two others, so physicians are recommending getting vaccinated before the end of November.

The Influenza Activity Levels Across Canada map can be accessed on the Government of Canada website. Updates for week 43 and 44 had not been released by press time.


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cowichan Valley food banks reopen on a limited basis

CMS handing out hampers, Basket Society doing hampers and sandwiches

Province restricts open burning in Cowichan Valley until April 15

Measure meant to assist fight against COVID-19

What you said: Shingles vaccine worthy of consideration

Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash

Kevin Timothy to plead guilty to animal cruelty charge

He will appear at the Duncan courthouse on March 24

Minister and Halalt First Nation chief consult on effects of recent flooding

Community heavily impacted with many damaged and uninhabitable homes

B.C. records first at-home death from COVID-19, but 70+ hospital patients have recovered

Total of 970 novel coronavirus cases in B.C., with the majority in the Lower Mainland area

List of cancelled Cowichan Valley community events

An ongoing list of events that have been cancelled in the Cowichan Valley due to COVID-19

BC Ferries able to restrict travel for sick passengers

Ferries working on schedule shifts to keep workers safe

Pay parking suspended at B.C. hospitals due to COVID-19

Temporary free parking reduces need for keypads, contact

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Helping those at risk, one piece of paper at a time through ‘isolation communication’

Simple paper tool during pandemic making its way across Canada thanks to social media.

‘Back to school, in a virtual way’ for B.C. students in COVID-19 pandemic

Province adds online resources to help parents at home

Canadian COVID-19 round-up: Air Canada cuts 15,000 jobs, 90% of flights

Comprehensive Canadian news update as of 2:30 p.m., Monday, March 30.

Most Read