"The flu vaccine is always good to get every season", McConnell said.
As of January 12, more than 600 children aged 16 and under had been hospitalized, with 93 of them ending up in intensive care and at least seven - all under age 10 - dying from complications of the flu, says the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).
"Everything went well until winter came and she got a cough and we got so alarmed when she suffered breathing difficulties", her mother Khaireen Khairuddin said.
Although the flu season is already in full swing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still state that the best response against the flu is the flu vaccine. Last year, the H3N2 strain, which is known to cause more severe illness, dominated.
Calgary has been a hotbed of flu activity this season, with a total of nine deaths in the city linked to the virus. The main circulating strain remains as A (H1N1) pdm09, which is well matched to the strains in this year's flu vaccines.
The recent outbreak squashed CDC hopes that flu activity had peaked earlier in the season.
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Overall deaths from pneumonia and flu, an indicator that typically lags other markers, rose to 7.2% last week and are above the epidemic threshold, and in an accompanying situation report, the CDC said that indicator has now topped the epidemic level for 2 weeks this season.
Dr. Hu says it's impossible to predict what form of the flu will be more prevalent each season. The actual number of Canadians who contracted influenza without seeing a health-care provider would be many times higher. Even if you do get flu, those who are vaccinated greatly reduce their risk of flu-related complications that can lead to hospitalization or death. "Vaccinated people can still get the flu but develop a milder illness than if they didn't get the vaccine". This is impossible. The flu vaccine contains an inactivated virus or no flu virus at all, so it can not give you the flu.
"Having said that, we have a lot of younger people and children who have ended up in hospital because the sheer numbers of people who have been affected".
This year's flu shot has been 72 per cent effective at preventing infections in Canada, according to a scientific study.
The CDC recommends vaccination against the flu for everyone 6 months and older.