The specter of a flu epidemic hangs over Canada

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The specter of an influenza epidemic hangs over Canada

According to data from the Public Health Agency of Canada, more than half of the flu cases detected since the beginning of September have been in children and adolescents.

Au Quebec, less than 1 million people have been vaccinated so far, despite the dominant influenza strain being one of the most virulent.

Two messages came from Ottawa in so many days to encourage Canadians to get their flu shot.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau led by example on Wednesday by getting his flu and COVID-19 shots.

Make sure your kids are up to date with their vaccinations […] at the same time as the flu shot, he said.

The day before, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, Theresa Tam, sounded the alarm: Nationally, influenza activity is increasing sharply and has crossed the seasonal threshold of 5% of positivity. If the percentage of positivity remains above this threshold next week, the start of an influenza epidemic will be declared.

After COVID-19… the seasonal flu adds to the problems of overcrowding in hospitals. Children and the elderly would be particularly vulnerable to this year's strain. Report by Davide Gentile.

According to data from the Public Health Agency of Canada, more than half of the flu cases detected since the beginning of September were in children and adolescents.

A similar finding in the United States, where hospitalizations of sick children due to influenza occur four to five weeks earlier this season.

The dominant strain, both in Canada and the United States (H3N2), is one of the most virulent, specifies the American Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), for both the elderly and the young children.

It is therefore not surprising that hospitals and emergency rooms in Quebec are overflowing.

Caroline Quach-Thanh, pediatrician, microbiologist, infectiologist at CHU Sainte-Justine and professor at the University of Montreal.

As explained by Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh, pediatric microbiologist and infectious disease specialist at the CHU Sainte-Justine, all the viruses we know are circulating concomitantly.

The latter cites in particular the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza, parainfluenza, metapneumovirus, the common coronavirus, as well as the famous SARS-CoV-2.

“Usually they pass the baton one after the other, but this year they decided to run all at once! […] In short, we have a nice soup. »

— Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh, pediatric microbiologist and infectious disease specialist at CHU Sainte-Justine

According to data from the Ministry of Health, just over 40% of elderly people 75 years and older have been vaccinated against influenza to date.

The objective of the National Public Health Program concerning vaccination coverage for the groups targeted by vaccination against influenza is set at 80%, said a few weeks ago Luc Boileau, National Director of Health public.

In the field, efforts are being made to reach as many seniors as possible.

We have mobile teams that will vaccinate in RPAs, HLMs and NPOs for seniors to pick up customers for whom it is difficult to move […] to make the service accessible to everyone, explains Amélie Thiffault, COVID-19 vaccination coordinator at the CIUSSS du Nord-de-l'île-de-Montréal.

Amélie Thiffault, COVID-19 vaccination coordinator, CIUSSS du Nord-de-l'île-de-Montréal.

A total of 913,571 people received the vaccine and 151,032 people have an appointment to receive the vaccine shortly, said a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health.

To date, 11% of the 330,000 workers in the health were vaccinated against the flu.

Last year, Quebec administered a total of 1.6 million doses. As in previous years, approximately 2 million doses were ordered this year.

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