Health officials: 15 deaths, 'high level' of hospitalizations reported from flu

Sunday, 14 Jan, 2018

DPH commissioner Raul Pino and state epidemiologist Dr. Matthew Cartter provided an update during a Friday morning news conference.

Similarly, the Greenville area has also seen an increase in the number of flu cases.

Health Minister John Haggie says a potentially less-than-perfect flu vaccine doesn't mean people should skip their flu vaccine this year.

Public health officials continued to press the public to get flu shots, saying it wasn't too late, and that the vaccine offered flawless protection against three of the four strains.

Despite the slight increase this year, Haggie said the province's vaccination coverage - about 21 per cent of residents have had a shot - isn't good, apart from the youngest and oldest in Newfoundland and Labrador. The victims were over the age of 65.

"The efficacy of the flu vaccine can only be determined at the end of a season", said Haggie. "The flu season typically runs until late spring so it is not too late to get vaccinated". The state may be four to six weeks away from seeing a peak.

Cartter said "We're hearing from hospitals across the state that many are full, they have no extra beds, they're seeing lots of ill patients with influenza like illnesses or confirmed cases of flu".

They said there were 60 deaths previous year. Widespread activity is the highest level of flu activity, which indicates increased flu-like activity or flu outbreaks in at least half of the regions in the state.

To address the higher demand for care for those with the flu, Wittkopf said, "The Hunt Regional Emergency Departments are experiencing increased volumes due to influenza and other respiratory illnesses".

But although there has been a spike in flu cases in Canada and the US, so far Newfoundland and Labrador has been largely spared, although half a dozen people have been sick enough to be hospitalized.

Most people with the flu are able to treat themselves at home with rest, drinking plenty of fluids, and over the counter medications, health officials say, but in some, the disease can lead to complications including pneumonia, seizures, and worsening of chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and heart or lung disease.

It acknowledged that there have been shortages of antiviral medications across the country; however, it said that is not the case in CT.

Long-term care residents are all vaccinated, pushing the rate among people 65 and up to 90 per cent, he said, while 98 per cent of children get a shot.

The statistics prompted doctors to tell people to take precautions. It's your best chance of preventing the flu.

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