Maritimers could be in for a nasty flu season
Maritimers are being told to brace for what is expected to be a nasty flu season this year.
Places like Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong have been experiencing some of their worst flu seasons on record and that could be an indication that Canadians are also in for an above average flu season.
“The predominant circulating strain that is in the Southern Hemisphere and in those countries is H3N2 which it is a strain that tends to cause more sickness and hospitalizations in people over the age of 65,” said Regional Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Na-Koshie Lamptey.
Lamptey is recommending that everyone, not just people at high risk, get the flu shot this season. She says this year’s vaccine does offer protection against the more aggressive H3N2 flu strain.
“We strongly encourage people to get the influenza vaccine. It is a safe and quick way to boost protection.”
Moncton pharmacist Lorna Leard said there is already a steady stream of people lined up to get their flu shots at the pharmacy where she works. She started giving out flu vaccinations on Tuesday and is expecting to be very busy in the coming weeks.
“We are kind of bracing for, hopefully, a lot of people looking to get their flu shot and get protected.”
But for the average person, that is a lot easier to do in Nova Scotia where the flu shot is free for everyone. Unlike in New Brunswick where only the young, the elderly and those considered high risk can get the shot for free.
Leard says that needs to change.
“Even the people that are the healthier population who aren’t high risk are potentially capable of passing it on to people who are high risk even if they are not a household contact or a daily contact just throughout, you know, life. So, I think it would be more effective to have everybody covered.”
But according to Paul Bradley, Communications Officer for the New Brunswick Department of Health: “Other than the many individuals who are high risk for influenza-related complication, the province does not have plans to universally cover the cost of the influenza vaccine.”
The average cost for the vaccination is about $20.
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