Buckle up: Flu season yet to peak in Canada

While flu-related deaths are not uncommon, the number of people being treated for the virus this season is, say officials. In the last week, hospitalizations of children under five have nearly doubled and there were seven more pediatric deaths, bringing the season total to 20. We are really pushing vaccines because flu season lasts until the end of March which means we have three more months' worth of cases.

In their weekly influenza activity report, state health officials categorize the outbreak of the disease in the Granite State as "regional", while the spread of influenza has been labeled "widespread" in 46 other states, according to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDPC). However, those are only cases confirmed by a lab.

He says that could mean younger people, who are more susceptible to catching the B strain, may get sick earlier, but it's hard to predict what the rest of the flu season will look like. It is not too late.

"The flu shot that covers for influenza A is only about 20-30% effective this year", said Dr. Spire.

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Dr. Chang says people with flu symptoms shouldn't worry about lack of insurance or money, that it's much more important to be treated. It comes on suddenly and symptoms may include fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion and body aches.

Denise Werker, Deputy Chief Medical Health Officer, says those who have yet to get the flu shot should do so.

Dan Jernigan, the director of the Influenza Division of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said the season is "very active", and there are early indicators it may be severe.

At this point, 80 percent of reported flu cases are this more severe strain, according to the CDC.

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The number of cases in Saskatchewan is up 80 percent from a year ago, something Werker says should not worry people in the province. The effectiveness of flu shots is not flawless, but for children who get the flu even when vaccinated, the effects are milder.

Of the more than 100 people who have died from the flu so far this season, 13 are children.

CDC Director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald said influenza type A, H3N2 strain has been the most common form of flu this season.

Health officials recommend the flu vaccine as the most effective way to prevent the illness and reduce complications.

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