New Brunswick’s chief medical officer says it’s not too late to get the flu shot.
Dr. Jennifer Russell says flu season peaked in January but a second wave of the illness, which started spreading across New Brunswick in March, is still infecting people.
“We do track all the numbers until we don’t see any more, and so we are still encouraging people to get flu vaccines because we still have some available,” said Russell, who added that the flu shot takes roughly two weeks to become effective.
Last August, health officials in Canada had predicted this to be a relatively mild flu season. Russell said that while the number of people impacted by the flu is slightly lower than last year, as of April 13 there have been more than 2,600 reported cases and 29 deaths in New Brunswick as a result.
Moncton pharmacist Peter Ford said flu season is hanging on across the province a lot longer than he has witnessed in years.
“It’s been a long time since I have seen it this late in the year. I mean, usually when you hit May, we are done,” said Ford.
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The number of flu cases in New Brunswick hit its peak in January, which Ford said is pretty typical. But in March and heading into April, Ford says a second wave and strain of flu started spreading across the region, which is highly unusual.
According to the Horizon Health Network, the active flu season is causing overcrowding at hospitals, extended wait times in ERs, and an increased number of hospital staff that are calling in sick.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, the number of flu cases is slowing down as we head into May. The second smaller wave of sustained influenza A observed in New Brunswick has been hitting provinces across the country, and so far 165 flu-related deaths have been reported.
“We have seen that New Brunswick is responsible for 15 per cent of the deaths which have happened from the flu this year, which is kind of bizarre,” said Ford, who says the province’s aging population could be playing a role.