Northern health officials preparing for a busy flu season
Shay Galor, CTV Northern Ontario
Published Thursday, October 12, 2017 6:12PM EDT
It's that time of the year again; flu season and this year we may be in for a doozy.
Australia is one of the many countries that struggled with the virus, with two and a half times the infections of last season.
"What we know is that they had a lot of influenza A H3N2, which causes a lot more illness," said Louise Anello, North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit.
"So, knowing that information kind of informs us of what we can expect to see, but it's unpredictable."
The other issue is the troublesome H3N2 strain. The vaccine couldn’t deal with it well three years ago, and because the strain is constantly changing, vaccination may or may not be the answer.
"So, will it protect? What we know is that even though there might be a change in the strain it also provides us with some protection," explained Anello.
Local health officials said getting the flu shot is still the best line of defence, and that side effects are minimal.
"Most people just experience a little bit of a sore arm," said Jessica Taus, North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit.
"You could get some muscle aches. You might get a slight fever but those symptoms usually last one or two days at the most."
Pharmacists said the vaccine is not just for seniors and children.
"The only people who can't get it are obviously people who are allergic to eggs or any component of the vaccine and those on certain medications that reduce the immune system, but I recommend everybody who's not in that small group of people get the flu shot," said Curtis Latimer, a pharmacy owner.
The vaccine is free for those with a valid health card.
If you're a resident of Ontario, but don't have a health card; contact public health for assistance. Family doctors, participating pharmacies and the health unit are all offering the flu shot to the public.