Longford people in flu risk group are urged to get vaccinated

As flu outbreak numbers rise, the HSE says it's not too late to get your vaccine

After a relatively slow start to flu season, influenza activity is now widespread in almost half of US states. Data suggests that more people got vaccinated earlier this year than they did last year, perhaps motivated by memories of the prior season.

Ottawa, in contrast, was seeing a lower rate of influenza overall and among children than the national rates as of the end of the year (the most recent numbers).

Canada-wide, 414 children have been hospitalized with the flu, the vast majority the H1N1 strain of influenza A, which tends to hit children hardest.

If symptoms become severe - such as shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, extreme weakness, lips turning blue or passing out - go to emergency, say public health officials.

While parts of the country are struggling with a tougher than usual flu season, especially for young children, Ottawa so far seems to be experiencing a less severe season - so far.

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However, this year's flu vaccine is a good match for circulating strains and the vaccine is the best way to protect yourself from getting the flu.

That's just confirmed tests. "Among hospitalizations so far this year, the highest rates that we are seeing are in those who are under age 5", said Dr. Daniel Jernigan.

As of December 29, the most recent data available from the Public Health Agency of Canada shows there were 13,796 laboratory-confirmed influenza cases across the country, with the provinces and territories reporting 1,046 hospitalizations and 24 deaths. At this point in the 2017-2018 flu season, 46 states were reporting widespread flu activity, there were 13.7 flu hospitalizations per 100,000 people and nearly 6% of doctor's visits were related to the flu. "But we don't know if that will be the case".

HSE public health and director of HPSC Dr Kevin Kelleher said that data showed that flu levels were likely to increase over the coming weeks when flu begins to actively circulate in the community.

"So there is no reason why people should not get the flu shot this year".

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