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Health authority hard hit by influenza last season

The Interior Health Authority saw a worse influenza season in 2014 than the year before.
Image Credit: Shutterstock
July 21, 2015 - 8:00 PM

THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - The Southern Interior was hard hit by influenza last season with a jump in confirmed cases and deaths.

But at the same time, the flu season here in the Interior Health Authority was typical of what the rest of Canada experienced.

Dr. Gillian Frosst, an epidemiolgist with the heatlh authority, told the board of directors eight people died from confirmed cases of influenza in the 2014-2015 flu season and 87 people were hospitalized within the health authority’s service area.

Hard hit were the residential care facilities for the elderly.

“We had 37 outbreaks in residential care facilities, the prior year we had six. They ranged in duration from 6 to 27 days," she said.

Frosst said the statistics were not a surprise, compounded as they were by a mismatched vaccine and the virulence of the flu strain H3N2, the dominant flu virus during the last season.

“We knew we could expect a higher severity of illness as well as more deaths. The vaccine mismatch lowered the effectiveness in the population as a whole."

The health authority delivered 182,000 flu vaccines last season; 78,000 through pharmacists, 55,000 through public health clinics and nurses, 28,000 through doctors and 20,500 through community vaccine providers.

Across the country, the influenza season peaked, as it usually does, in early January with a smaller peak in March. Some 12,000 Canadians were admitted to hospital with the illness and another 2,500 died from the disease, which disproportionately affects the young, the elderly or those with compromised immune systems.

Within the health authority, the health care worker influenza control program saw a participation rate of 78 per cent last year, up from 57 per cent when the program was introduced three years ago. It requires frontline health care workers to either get a flu vaccine or a mask during their shifts.

To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at jmcdonald@infonews.ca or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © iNFOnews, 2015
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