Number of flu cases down this season, but N.B. has already seen two deaths
FREDERICTON -- Flu season comes every year, but what's less predictable is how people will be affected.
This year, a number of New Brunswickers have already come down with the virus, and there have been two deaths associated with the flu.
The province has 178 lab-confirmed cases of the flu as of Jan. 4. Nova Scotia has 30 cases, and Prince Edward Island has 16.
"Last year, at this time, we had 850 cases, so it is a bit of a different year. Last year it started earlier," said Dr. Jennifer Russell, the New Brunswick Chief Medical Officer of Health.
Doctors think we likely haven't seen the worst of it yet.
Other differences this year are supply issues and a surge in demand in the fall, which caused delays in getting the flu vaccine.
Russell says that's no longer the case.
"There are many different ways to get your flu shot, so there's not just one pharmacy, or one pharmacist, or one physician or one nurse practitioner," Russell said. "There are many, so everyone should have access."
New Brunswick is one of three provinces in this country where the flu shot isn't covered for everyone. It is covered for those considered at risk: the elderly, children, or those with a pre-existing health condition. But if you're considered healthy in the province, it will cost you between 20 and 25 dollars depending on the pharmacy you go to.
Last year, 42 per cent of Canadians got the flu shot, according to Statistics Canada.
That is too few in the opinion of most health-care professionals.
It's too early in the season to determine how we're doing this year and whether supply issues affected the number of people who got the shot.
"Physicians and researchers will sit down at the end of the flu season and look at the numbers," said Dr. Chris Goodyear, president of the New Brunswick Medical Society. "How did we compare to last year? How many people got immunized in the province compared to last year? So we really need to sit back and reflect on things after the season is over."
But all health-care professionals agree, it's not too late to get your flu shot.