The Northwest Territories has had its first flu case of the season, with officials urging people to take advantage of a vaccine expected to work well against current strains.
“We had our first documented case of influenza last week. We’ve had localized flu in Ontario and Alberta, and we are anticipating that the flu will arrive early this year,” Dr Kami Kandola – the territory’s chief public health officer – told Cabin Radio.
“Right now, across Canada, flu is starting to circulate,” she said. “What that means is hurry up and get your flu shot.”
Clinics across the territory’s communities will deliver vaccines until the end of November. A list of dates and venues is available on the territorial government’s website.
“The organized flu clinics will be wrapping up at the end of November, but people can still go to their public health clinic or their regional community health centre and request the flu vaccine,” said Kandola.
“Because the flu is circulating, the best time to get the vaccine is now – but if you somehow miss the flu clinics in your community, it’s not too late.”
‘Very good match’
This year’s vaccine appears particularly effective against prevalent strains of influenza, Kandola said.
“Last year we had a vaccine mismatch and some of the worst flu seasons across the world,” she explained. “This year, Australia had a relatively mild season and there seems to be a very good match to the vaccines.
“The main strain circulating is Influenza A H1N1, which is protected under the vaccine. We have a better match with the other Influenza A strain, H3N2, which is better-suited to what we are expecting, and we have two Influenza B strains that are good matches as well.
“When we look at the Southern Hemisphere and Australia – if the virus doesn’t mutate, it does look like it could be a mild season. However, we do know the flu is coming early.”