H1N1 flu returns, targets younger people

Supplies of influenza vaccine are still available to B.C. residents, despite high demand

B.C. health ministry purchased a record 1.4 million doses of influenza vaccine for this season

Supplies of influenza vaccine are still available to B.C. residents, despite high demand as the H1N1 strain of the virus has returned, provincial health officials say.

Cases since the current flu season began in December have shown a shift towards people aged 20 to 69, rather than the very young and the elderly who are typically most vulnerable. There have been severe cases involving healthy, younger people and two deaths have been confirmed, one in the Okanagan and one on Vancouver Island.

The main strain of influenza to emerge this winter is a descendent of the H1N1 that prompted the largest vaccination in Canadian history in 2009-10, when the illness was declared a global pandemic.

Provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall said the B.C. health ministry purchased a record 1.4 million doses of the current vaccine, which offers immunity to H1N1 and other strains. Some doctors’ offices and pharmacies have run out as demand has been higher than last year.

“We have supplies currently available, but it’s conceivable that if demand continues to be high, we’ll use up all of those 1.4 million doses,” Kendall said Wednesday. “So I wouldn’t call it a vaccine shortage, I’d call it an unusually high demand.”

The health ministry has a website for information on influenza and other vaccinations, with a guide to finding local flu clinics, here.

Since 2009, pharmacies as well as doctors’ offices and dedicated flu clinics have been authorized to administer flu shots. They are free of charge to higher risk groups, including pregnant women, very young or old people, people with other medical conditions and those planning to visit a hospital or long-term care facility.

Flu season typically runs from December to April. Kendall said in an average year, between 10 and 20 per cent of B.C. residents contract the virus, with about 2,000 sick enough to be hospitalized and 500 deaths, mostly people with underlying conditions.

While severe illness among younger, healthier people is unusual, so far the current flu season is in the typical range, Kendall said.

Seasonal influenza is mainly a respiratory illness, with symptoms of coughing, fever, headache and muscle ache that typically last from seven to 10 days. It can be complicated by pneumonia and worsen underlying conditions such as heart disease.

Kendall said confirmation of North America’s first case of H5N1 “bird flu” is not a cause for public concern, because that strain is typically caught from poultry and rarely transmitted from person to person. A traveller returning from China to Edmonton via Vancouver during the Christmas season became ill and died Jan. 3.

 

Just Posted

Greater Victoria residents among the most credit-worthy Canadians

Yet debt levels continue to rise as Canadians owe $178 for every $100 earned

BC Transit offers high school grads free bus rides

2019 grads can choose two days in June to ride for free

Village Block Party returns to Cook Street

Sunday’s event brings vendors, entertainment and coveted dog race to Victoria’s Cook Street

Thursday sees mix of sun and cloud, high of 22 C

Plus a look ahead at your weekend forecast

BC business offers ‘clean start’ for people with employment barriers

CleanStart BC is looks to expand its Victoria staff

Kelowna toddler suffers cracked skull after fall from balcony

Neighbour who found the two-year-old boy said he has a bump the size of a golf ball on his head

POLL: Were you satisfied with the Game of Thrones series finale?

Millions gathered in front of their televisions Sunday night to watch the… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of May 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Crews fight fire with fire to keep blaze from northern Alberta town

The wildfire now covers some 920 square kilometres

Man in B.C. charged with murder and arson in 2016 New Brunswick death

He is charged in the death of 71-year-old Lucille Maltais, who was found inside a burned down home

Improve your life and theirs, adopt a cat from the BC SPCA

The BC SPCA holds an adult cat adoption promotion

RCMP probe if teen was intentionally hit with ski pole by mystery skier on B.C. mountain

The incident happened on March 20 on Grouse Mountain. Police are urging witnesses to come forward

Support growing for orphaned Okanagan child after father dies in highway crash

Family thanks emergency crews for assistance in traumatic incident

Baby boom seniors putting pressure on B.C. long-term care: report

B.C. leads Canada in growth of dementia, dependence on care

Most Read