Fewer Manitobans vaccinated against flu strain wreaking havoc at Children’s Hospital

Advertisement

Advertise with us

Few Manitoba children have been vaccinated against this season’s influenza strain, which is causing widespread infection and serious illness, particularly in babies and toddlers.

Read this article for free:

or

Already have an account? Log in here »

To continue reading, please subscribe with this special offer:

All-Access Digital Subscription

$1.50 for 150 days*

  • Enjoy unlimited reading on winnipegfreepress.com
  • Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
  • Access News Break, our award-winning app
  • Play interactive puzzles
Continue

*Pay $1.50 for the first 22 weeks of your subscription. After 22 weeks, price increases to the regular rate of $19.00 per month. GST will be added to each payment. Subscription can be cancelled after the first 22 weeks.

Few Manitoba children have been vaccinated against this season’s influenza strain, which is causing widespread infection and serious illness, particularly in babies and toddlers.

Just 6.2 per cent of babies and toddlers under five years old, and 6.3 per cent of children five to 17, had received their flu shot so far this fall — totalling just under 20,000 doses administered to children as of Nov. 12.

Overall, only about 15 per cent of Manitoba’s population has received a flu shot, according to the latest provincial data. But this predominant strain of the flu (known as influenza A or H3N2) is currently the main reason Children’s Hospital is dealing with a surge in emergency-room visits.

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Only 12.5 per cent of Manitoba children have received their flu shot so far this fall — totalling just under 20,000 doses administered to children as of Nov. 12.

The hospital is seeing three times the pre-pandemic (November 2019) rate of young flu patients, and presently about half of children arriving in the ER have influenza symptoms, Dr. Elisabete Doyle, head of pediatric emergency medicine at Children’s Hospital, said this week. She told reporters Tuesday that infectious-disease professionals have informed her this year’s flu shot uptake is “relatively low” compared to past flu seasons.

“Part of that may be related to the fact that during the pandemic, people were just not immunizing, and so this year they’ve been kind of late to get to the table,” she said. “One of the important things I want to emphasize is that you don’t have to see your physician to get a flu shot.”

By the end of the 2017-18 flu season, during which flu transmission was high and the main strain was also H3N2, 22.5 per cent of Manitoba’s population had a flu shot, including 17.9 per cent of children under age five. About 20 per cent of the population was vaccinated against the flu as of December 2019, just before the pandemic hit, according to past provincial epidemiological reports.

No flu-related deaths of children have been reported in Manitoba this year. But this strain has been fatal for at least one senior. The province has reported fewer than five flu deaths this season, all among people 65 or older.

Levels of flu transmission in Manitoba are getting higher, and nationally it has reached epidemic level and is causing above-normal rates of hospital visits. As of Nov. 12, Alberta had the most widespread rates of flu cases, according to the latest weekly FluWatch report through the Public Health Agency of Canada.

katie.may@freepress.mb.ca

Katie May

Katie May
Reporter

Katie May is a general-assignment reporter for the Free Press.

Report Error Submit a Tip

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

COVID-19: Latest News

LOAD MORE COVID-19: LATEST NEWS