The Public Health Agency of Canada confirms that the flu season is officially underway in the country.
The rate of positive flu tests has remained above the agency’s 5% threshold for two consecutive weeks.
As of November 25, 7.5% of people tested for the flu in Canada tested positive.
The DD Allison McGeer, an infectious disease specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, says the number of cases is increasing and there will be a lot of flu circulating in a few weeks.
DD McGeer says that means it’s a good time to get a flu shot because it takes about two weeks to boost people’s immune systems.
She says the dominant strain will now be influenza A type H1N1, which corresponds well to the current vaccine.
Not all provinces and territories are reporting a 5% positivity rate yet. For example, the latest flu surveillance report from Public Health Ontario indicates that the rate was 2.8% as of November 25 in that province.
But Ontario and other provinces will soon catch up and those rates will rise, Dr.D McGeer during an interview Friday.
“The flu season that starts today suggests that there will be a lot of flu in late December and early January,” she said.
“That’s when you want to go out with your friends and do a bunch of things. But the flu can make this period quite painful,” she added.
Many adults have some level of resistance to H1N1 flu strains, so they “tend to cause a lot of illness in children, particularly in unvaccinated children,” said Dr.D McGeer.
She added that “emergency departments and pediatrics are under more pressure” during H1N1-dominant flu seasons.
COVID-19 back in force
Although the DD McGeer reiterated that while it’s important for people to get their flu shots, she’s even more concerned about the levels of COVID-19 circulating this year.
Friday’s surveillance report from Public Health Ontario showed a 20 per cent test positivity rate for COVID-19 in that province.
In addition to test positivity, wastewater surveillance and hospitalizations show an increase in COVID-19 cases in Canada, D saidD McGeer.
“Just because we stopped talking about people being hospitalized with COVID doesn’t mean people aren’t being hospitalized with COVID,” she said.
“At the rate we are going, there will be more people hospitalized from COVID and more people dying from it this year than last year,” the doctor said, noting that low adoption of the new COVID vaccine -19 to XBB variant is worrying.
The Canadian Press’ health coverage is supported by a partnership with the Canadian Medical Association. The Canadian Press is solely responsible for this content.