Canadian health officials bracing for peak flu season

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One doctor suggested this could shape up to be the worst flu season in a decade. Majority were seeking relief from flu symptoms.

The latest Public Health Agency of Canada FluWatch report, which covers the final two weeks of 2017, shows influenza activity keeps rising, hitting those 65 and older the hardest and causing outbreaks primarily at long-term-care facilities.

"Many tend to view flu much like the common cold, and that is a mistake", said Connie Clark, manager of infection prevention at Nash UNC Health Care in the press release. So far this season, there have been 13 reported pediatric deaths related to influenza nationwide.

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For Californians who haven't gotten the flu yet, health officials continue to recommend getting the vaccine, washing hands, and avoiding contact with anyone who is coughing, sneezing or has a runny nose.

Though the flu killed three Californians by this time a year ago, 68 people had died from it by the end of February, according to state data. During the 2016-17 flu season, there were 219 flu-related deaths in North Carolina. "We aren't going to be in crisis mode, but we certainly are on high alert and we'll take every action possible to meet the demand".

Preliminary estimates for the vaccine's effectiveness against influenza A in Australia has been pegged at roughly 10 per cent, according to a recent New England Journal of Medicine article. Flu viruses change from year to year and have to repeated annually to be most effective. "Sometimes if it's a really bad year it creates a lot of pressure, and then we run out of beds".

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The Metro Public Health Department will be giving free shots on a walk-in basis from 8 a.m. -3:30 p.m.at all three health department locations, East Health Center, 1015 E. Trinity Lane, Lentz Health Center, 2500 Charlotte Ave., and Woodbine Health Center, 224 Oriel Ave.

Gunzenhauser said vaccination against influenza lowers one's chances of catching the flu or being a carrier. "Getting the vaccine is better than not getting the vaccine". The ability of flu vaccine to protect a person depends on various factors, including the age and health of the person being vaccinated, and the similarity or "match" between the viruses used to make the vaccine and those circulating in the community.

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