It might not feel like it to anyone who gets the flu, but this season isn’t as bad for the illness in P.E.I. as some past years have been.
Dr. Lamont Sweet, the province’s deputy chief health officer, said this year the confirmed influenza cases have all been from the same strain, unlike past years when there are usually two or more.
“That’s a bit unusual...but it is covered in the vaccine,” he said.
This year the confirmed cases have been from the AH3 strain, which was in the vaccine that also covered H1N1.
Sweet said the public health office realizes the vaccine isn’t 100 per cent effective any year, but even if it doesn’t prevent someone from getting the flu it does lessen the impact.
“It’s still the best we have,” he said.
This flu season, which started with the first cases in November, has seen 91 positive cases in P.E.I., with 33 people hospitalized.
Of those cases, two people landed in the intensive care unit.
Sweet said two years ago there were 53 hospitalizations with six people admitted to intensive care.
This year the flu also seems to be sticking around longer than usual, he said.
“But whether or not that is actually the vaccine or whether the strain just isn’t leaving us and we’re only getting one stain is hard to say.”
Sweet said there have been more cases in seniors compared to last year, but not much difference in that age group than two years ago.
“We’re getting it in seniors but not really any different than a year where we’re having a lot of flu,” he said.
With only 33 hospitalizations it has been a pretty good year for the number of people who have become seriously ill, he said.
And while there have been many reports of flu cases in nursing homes, Sweet said most of those people haven’t been hospitalized.
“They’re certainly getting it but they don’t seem to be getting the severe complications that we sometimes get.”