With the holidays around the corner, family gatherings are something to be expected but Saskatchewan experts are reminding residents to take precautions in the midst of the flu season.
The Public Health Agency of Canada signalled the start of the seasonal flu season last week, but Saskatchewan’s deputy chief medical health officer said the province is already a month in.
“What we’ve seen over the last few weeks since mid-November are all signs of that,” Dr. Julie Kryzanowski said. “We have seen an increase in hospitalizations, in ICU admissions and outbreaks in long-term care facilities of influenza, as well as, unfortunately, deaths due to influenza this year.”
“We expect to see those viruses continue to transmit,” she said. “For flu, we see about a three-month wave of seasonal epidemic influenza for influenza A, and that’s what we’re seeing right now.”
Another wave of influenza B usually follows later in the winter months or in the spring, which Kryzanowski says tends to affect pediatric patients more than other age groups. She said vaccination is the best tool that people have to protect themselves and their loved ones.
“It’s not too late to be vaccinated. We encourage anybody who is thinking about being vaccinated to go out and get your vaccine now, because it does take a couple of weeks to build antibodies after being vaccinated to give you that protection that that vaccine can offer,” Kryzanowski said.
Deviyani Patel, a pharmacist and owner of Shoppers Drug Mart in Emerald Park, is encouraging people to get their flu vaccines to avoid hospitalizations.
“It has been noticed that in Australia, when they had their flu season, there was a spike in flu-related hospitalizations. And we want to avoid that in Canada,” Patel said. “We have already started noticing, there has been more hospitalizations because of flu, COVID and RSV currently in our region and therefore it is not late to get your flu vaccines as soon as possible.”
According to the latest Community Respiratory Illness Surveillance Program (CRISP) report, influenza hospitalizations in Saskatchewan increased to 263 from 90 between Nov. 5 and Nov. 18. Five Saskatchewan residents are reported dead from the influenza, as noted in the CRISP report.
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