There is an urgent call among public health officials as flu cases remain high.
Dr. Paul Roumeliotis is the medical officer of health for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit. He says, “We are seeing a flattening of the curve for COVID-19, which is good news, but still activity. However, we are also seeing a simultaneous rise in RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), which can cause the common cold for adults, but breathing problems for young children. At the same time we are early rise of flu going upwards.”
Roumeliotis says influenza cases are not increasing as rapidly, but the peak is not here yet.
“I think we are seeing a slowing down of that rise, which is good news, but all three things have congregated together and this is the reason we are seeing people getting sick, respiratory illnesses, and on top of that we have viruses that are causing a common cold as well,” he says.
Roumeliotis says these factors are contributing to more illnesses, particularly in young children.
“In my mind, the flu has had unprecedented numbers this early on.”
As respiratory infections among children surge in Ontario, one local health unit is reporting the death of a child.
“We are aware of a death in our region of a child who had tested positive for flu,” said Dr. Linna Li, acting medical officer of health for the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit, in a statement to CTV News. “We are saddened by this tragic death. We are not aware of any other flu-related deaths in our region.”
Roumeliotis says paediatric deaths from the flu are rare, but can happen.
“It is very tragic,” he says. “Unfortunately, we do know the flu can be deadly among children.”
Roumeliotis is pushing everyone six months and older to get vaccinated against influenza.
“That is one of the reasons why we are anxious to get children vaccinated. Vaccination is the best approach, and we can vaccinate children six months and older against the flu and that is particularly important this year.”
Roumeliotis says young children and older adults are most vulnerable to severe consequences of the flu.
“We want to prevent them all. It is tragic when they occur and we want to prevent all of them. We need to be able to understand that the flu is not just a cold. We are learning a lesson now of how important it is to prevent the flu as much as we can.”
Jordan Clark is a pharmacist and he says he uptake in the demand for flu shot so far has been high.
“Word is out that it is going to be a difficult flu season across the board. We are also dealing with RSV plus COVID-19 cases, so anything that people can do to prevent getting sick, whether it is adult or kids, we’ve definitely seen a big uptake,” he says.
“We are doing a lot of appointments. We are booked into December, but we are also squeezing in walk-ins as well. Anywhere we can, people are eager and if they are in the store we will do our best to see them.”
Clark says there are also younger kids coming in to get their shots.
“Definitely a sense of urgency with kids. There is a lot of talk about kids being out of school, CHEO is obviously talking about the illnesses they are seeing in their hospital, ICUs, emergency room. So we definitely have a lot of kids of all ages come in and we are trying to see as many as we can.”
Leave a Reply