Flu shot may bring only some protection this year: disease expert
Published Saturday, December 2, 2017 10:00PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, December 3, 2017 3:24PM EST
Officials are predicting this year’s flu season will be harsher than normal, and the flu shot may not be as effective at preventing the virus as it has been in the past.
In Australia, which can be an indicator of what to expect for Canada’s flu season, the shot provided minimal success when it comes to protecting people from the virus.
The country saw double the usual number of deaths from the virus and triple the number of overall cases.
"What they did observe in Australia is that the vaccine didn't work very well,” said Dr. Neil Rau, an infectious disease specialist.
“It protected only 10 per cent of people, and that's even worse than the usual rate of protection which is usually 40 to 50 per cent in a good year."
This year’s predominant strain, H3N2, historically has produced more severe seasons. Children and the elderly are at a particular risk.
According to Health Canada, southern Alberta and southern Ontario have been the hardest-hit regions thus far. The virus has already killed five people in the Calgary area.
"I think the bigger issue is what do hospitals do to get ready for what could be a big onslaught of cases around the holiday season," said Rau.
The Centre for Disease Control in Atlanta says that while the vaccine may not be as effective as in the past, it is still worthwhile as it will lessen the severity of the flu in some patients.
For Calgary’s Laura Hampton, any protection against the flu is good protection when it comes to her one-year-old son Jack.
"With the flu rates in Calgary and him in daycare, it's reasonable that he gets it,” she said. “We can't take too much time off work for him to be sick, so anything we can do to boost his immunity."
With a report from CTV’s Atlantic Bureau Chief Todd Battis