While it may seem that every person in town is coughing up a storm, the number of Islanders hospitalized from the flu is actually down significantly over last year.
According to Island Health, a total of 52 patients have been diagnosed with influenza and admitted to an Island Health acute care facility between Sept. 1, 2019 and Dec. 30, 2019.
In the same time period in 2018 there were 176 influenza-based hospitalizations.
This year Island Health saw a slight uptick in the number of flu vaccines distributed to local providers, with a total of 237,635 seen throughout the communities for the 2019/2020 flu season. Of these, 152,402 were sent to pharmacies, an increase of 4,400 since last year.
The increase in flu vaccines may not be the reason behind the drop, however, said Island Health medical health officer Dr. Dee Hoyano.
“Some years we have high numbers of cases and some years low. The timing of activity and the number and kind of strains circulating is also unpredictable,” Hoyano said in an emailed statement. “So far this year in this part of B.C., we have had relatively less activity for influenza, but we are far from the end of the influenza season which typically extends into March/April.”
Hoyano added that at this point it’s too early to ease off preventative measures, and that a peak in hospitalization may still be around the corner.
“Keep up the handwashing, cough etiquette and staying home when ill,” she advised.