Calgary could get a little less this year, but a public health doctor wants to remind you that the flu season is not over yet.
Cases of flu have reached the peak of the week of November 11-17, according to Alberta Health Services. In 2017, the peak was the week of December 10-16, a whole month.
Calgary also saw around 500 cases of flu in mid-December, compared to a year earlier. Since then, cases have fallen, said Dr. Jia Hu, Alberta Health Services, a health health officer for the Calgary area.
It is very important for people to think about the flu, even if a lot of hubbub around the flu season has come to an end, Hu said. "I think it's probably the best thing you can do to prevent flu."
The early onset of the flu season was partly the fault of filling emergency rooms with people infected with influenza, the Canadian Public Health Agency said. The agency said that more babies usually got sick. Children are more vulnerable than adults to influenza and respiratory diseases, such as pneumonia.
7 deaths, one hundred hospitalized
Since Thursday, the flu has killed seven people and sent another 437 to the hospital in Calgary, shows AHS figures. There were 1,884 cases confirmed by the laboratory in this region, accounting for 40% of the total of 4,634 cases in Alberta.
Hu did not know how many people who died or were hospitalized were vaccinated against the flu.
To date, most of the Calgary cases were H1N1, rather than the H3N2 strain, which was prolific last year, he said. H1N1 is associated with sometimes milder symptoms, he said, which could have resulted in fewer deaths and hospitalizations.
"There are a lot of things that could happen, so the strain circulating is a potential problem. Another thing is that the vaccine could be more effective this year than last year," Hu said.
"There is a lot of chance happening – depends on who gets the flu, what else is sick – but I'm certainly very glad to see that the number of deaths seems to be much lower than last year at this point."
The 2017-18 season was considered a particularly bad moment for the flu. Less than one-third of Albertans patients were vaccinated, Hu noted, and more than 9,000 confirmed laboratory cases were reported.
Previous seasons saw fewer cases: under 4,500 cases in 2016-17 and more than 5,300 in 2015-16.
More time to vaccinate
Alberta Health Services describes the vaccine as a good match and measures its effectiveness throughout the season. The agency receives statistics at the beginning of the new year, Hu said.
This year's vaccine covers four strains of influenza, so if you've already caught one, the vaccine will help you fight the other three or reduce the severity of the infection, he said.
By avoiding influenza, you also protect those around you who may be more vulnerable to illness, including children, the elderly and people with pre-existing illnesses such as asthma.
The flu vaccine is free for anyone over the age of six months in Alberta, including non-residents. AHS provides an online tool to look for a vaccinating site nearby. You can also call 811 or visit pharmacies, medical offices and medical offices.
This year's vaccine has been described as a promising match for different viral strains by medical experts. The vaccine can not cause the flu, but some may have mild side effects such as headaches or sick muscles.