Demand for flu vaccine picking up in Nova Scotia
HALIFAX -- Flu season may be hitting its peak in the Maritimes, but doctors say it's not too late to get a flu shot.
Pharmacist Jamie Flynn says more people have been coming into his Halifax shop to get a seasonal flu shot.
"I think with reports of some deaths out west that people are a little more aware of it lately so more people have been coming in lately for that," Flynn said.
The latest numbers from New Brunswick show that three people who tested positive for seasonal influenza have died, with two people in Nova Scotia.
Information from Prince Edward Island was not made available.
The timing, severity, and the number of people becoming ill would appear to be typical for this time of year.
What is abnormal is the ages of people getting sick because flu strains A and B are circulating at the same time.
"Certainly on the pediatrics side, there's a much greater impact that includes Influenza B and other viruses, but the adult side, the impact side is on the low side of normal," said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health.
A number of schools in Nova Scotia reported to Public Health 10 per cent or more of its student population being absent last week.
Trying to find a face mask at any drug store in the Maritimes and beyond has become a difficult task.
"I haven't been able to order some face masks in recently either, there have been a shortage from my wholesaler as well," Flynn said.
Strang says using a mask is not guaranteed to offer protection.
"Studies have shown that people who wear masks touch their face more frequently to adjust their mask, or their hand goes under the mask, so there's actually some evidence that wearing a mask actually increases your risk of infecting yourself with common respiratory viruses," Strang said.
Medical professionals say a proper coughing technique, frequent handwashing, and a flu shot are still the best way to prevent influenza.
"But if you get vaccinated today, it takes you about two weeks to get full immunity, and two weeks from now I expect to have significant flu activity around," Strang said.
That activity is expected to continue into late March at the very least.
As it pertains to the new coronavirus, the Canadian government announced additional screening for that particular illness has expanded to 10 Canadian airports, and that includes Halifax Stanfield International.