Flu striking islanders hard

  • Jan. 19, 2011 1:00 p.m.

More and more islanders are heading to the local hospitals with flu symptoms, according to Northern Health. Spokesperson Eryn Collins said the number of visits is up, especially in Masset, and lab results indicate that the H1N1 virus is at fault. “We’d like to encourage people to get the flu shot. It is the best way to prevent yourself from getting sick,” she said. She said islands schools have reported absenteeism to the public health office, as well. Northern Health has a threshold over which they encourage school officials to let them know about children missing school, and a few schools have surpassed it. This year’s flu shot is still available at local health units, she says. The shot covers three strains of flu, including H1N1 and H3N2, a strain that is causing concerns in central Canada. In Queen Charlotte, the numbers of islanders getting flu shots as of December 2010 went down compared with numbers from two years ago, from 547 shots to 256 this year. Ms Collins isn’t comparing flu shot numbers with last year, as concern over H1N1 turning into a pandemic bumped up numbers across the country. That threat is over, she said, but getting a flu shot is still a good idea. However, flu shot numbers are up in Masset, she said. This past year, 411 people received the immunization, compared to 360 in 2008.