July 17, 2019 3:13 pm

Guelph health authority preparing for potentially bad flu season

Public health officials in Guelph and Wellington County are gearing up for a potentially nasty flu season.

Alexa MacLean / Global Halifax

The health authority that oversees Guelph and Wellington County says it is already preparing for what could be a nasty flu season this year.

Officials have been looking at cases in Australia, where health authorities are reporting unusually high flu activity and more than 200 reported deaths so far in the country’s flu season.

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Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health said Australia is used as an indicator of what can be expected in Canada, as the same flu strain tends to migrate to North America.

“It mutates multiple times before it gets to us but it gives us an idea as to what we need to have in our flu vaccines,” said Rita Sethi, director of community health.

She added that the concern regarding Australia is that more people than usual are having complications from influenza and needing to be hospitalized.

“If the virus remains as virulent as it is in Australia, meaning that if it is as strong or as contagious as it is in Australia, we could see similar behaviours in our population when it hits us in the fall,” she said.

The public health authority expects to start providing flu shots by mid-October.

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The Ministry of Health said it has ordered 300,000 more high-dose flu vaccines this year than it did last year, with a total order of 1.2 million.

The high-dose vaccine has four times the amount of antigens than the regular flu shot and is given to more vulnerable people, such as seniors.

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Sethi said an education campaign will be rolled out closer to the fall, and she is urging everyone to get the vaccine when it becomes available.

“Even though you’re healthy, the flu virus can really make you quite ill. But the other part of it is that you can pass it on to someone who doesn’t have the same immune system as you do,” she said.

—With files from the Canadian Press

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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