“Complacency” to blame for Toronto’s overwhelming number of flu cases

“Complacency” to blame for Toronto’s overwhelming number of flu cases

Toronto’s in the middle of a walloping flu season. After last year’s swine flu pandemic that wasn’t, the city seems to have let down its guard. A higher-than-usual number of people went without a flu shot this year, and now many are paying the price in phlegm.

The Globe and Mail reports:

As public health officials battle H3N2, a seasonal flu that disproportionately affects the elderly, they worry that the fact that many people sailed through last year’s much-hyped H1N1 pandemic virus will keep Canadians from getting a shot in the arm this year. Early signs reflect that fact: In Ontario, about 25 per cent of residents have received a flu shot, compared with 35 per cent in other seasonal flu years; and Toronto Public Health said vaccination rates are down 20 per cent compared with the two years before the pandemic.

“There’s been a certain reluctance on the part of the community-at-large to take up the vaccine this year, and I think that’s most unfortunate,” said Andrew Simor, head of microbiology and infectious diseases at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. “We’re certainly at risk this year of having a more active and more severe outcome from our seasonal influenza.” In an average year, about 5,000 deaths in Canada are associated with influenza.

Yowza. “Dead from flu” would be a sad way to go. And like the somewhat terrifying number of airline “incidents” we read about yesterday, the idea that thousands of people die from the flu every year is probably one of those horrible facts we’ll just forget about after some time passes.  Let this be a warning to children, pregnant women and the elderly: get your flu shot.

• Flu cases show spike amid complacency about vaccines [Globe and Mail]