Hamilton public health hoping for a milder flu season

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Hamilton’s public health department expects to see a milder flu season this year, but says that doesn’t mean you should forget about the flu shot.

READ MORE: B.C. flu season: Interior Health urges Okanagan residents to get immunized

Dr. Ninh Tran, the city’s associate medical officer of Health, says the 2017 flu season was an anomaly.

The number of cases surpassed previous years because higher levels of influenza B were circulating at the same time as the A strain.

Early indications are that this year will be much more typical.

What happens in the southern hemisphere he says, can be predictive of what will transpire in Canada.

“Australia had a milder season than it did the year before,” Tran said. It featured “a return to more of a typical flu season with flu A as the dominant type.”

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Hamilton has already confirmed one case of the flu so far this fall.

Tran is encouraging residents to help ensure the spread of flu doesn’t hit last year’s levels by taking preventative measures, such as the flu shot.

“Getting it earlier is important. It might take up to two weeks to come into effect.”

The vaccine is currently available to those six months of age or older at clinics, pharmacies or family physicians’ offices.

Tran says it’s too soon to say how well this year’s vaccine will perform. He does, however, say it will provide more protection with four strains being included compared to three in last year’s formula.

Influenza accounts for around 12,000 hospitalizations in the country each year and approximately 3,500 deaths.

READ MORE: ‘Boost your immune system’: pharmacist tips for not getting sick this flu season

Young children, those with compromised immune systems, and older adults are at higher risk of developing complications.

Flu symptoms include sneezing, coughing, chills, body aches and tiredness.

Outside of the flu shot, Tran recommends washing your hands often with warm, soapy water, cleaning shared surfaces and covering up when you cough or sneeze.