Canadian Pediatric Society Calls on Families to Get a Flu Vaccine | CBC News

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Get a flu shot as soon as possible, the Canadian Pediatric Society urged families Friday, as respiratory viruses continue to make some babies and young children seriously ill across the country.

Nationwide, flu activity continued to “increase considerably,” the Public Health Agency of Canada said in its FluWatch report for the week ending November 12. “All vigilance indicators are increasing and are above expected levels typical for this time of year.”

Indicators include people reporting cough and fever at levels beyond normal for this time of year, as well as visits to doctors or nurse practitioners for flu-like symptoms.

The agency declared the start of the annual flu epidemic earlier this week, more than a month earlier than the average before the COVID-19 pandemic. Influenza-associated hospitalizations are also at levels typically seen at the peak of influenza season, with a sharp increase among children and adolescents.

The flu vaccine is especially important for young children, who are at higher risk of severe illness from the virus, said Dr. Laura Sauvé, chair of the society’s committee on immunization and infectious diseases.

surge of viruses

The surge in influenza comes as other illnesses, such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) among children, are overwhelming the capacity of children’s hospitals in Canada, leading to long waits for those who are not seriously ill or injured.

Also on Friday, following a directive issued by Ontario Health, youth ages 16 and older who need emergency care or admission to an inpatient unit in Ottawa are told to go to other hospitals in the region, with some exceptions. , to help relieve pressure. at CHEO, Ottawa Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Lindy Sampson, the hospital’s chief of staff and medical director, said today that the intensive care unit where the sickest patients go has exactly twice the number of patients normally treated there. Most of today’s ICU patients are in their first years of life, Sampson said.

Pedestrians wearing masks walk past a mural of a mother and child in Calgary in December 2020. Canadians are encouraged to wear masks again indoors this respiratory virus season. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Sampson told reporters the increase is expected to continue for four to six weeks.

No children have died of influenza or RSV this season at the hospital, Sampson said.

CHEO officials said they are seeing a disproportionately high number of children showing the highest level of illness and needing resuscitation.

Sampson also urged people to put masks back indoors, stay home when sick, take advantage of the availability of flu and COVID-19 vaccines, and continue the basics of washing your hands and taking care of yourself. each other.

Sauvé gave similar advice.

‘No magic solution’

“There is no magic solution that will prevent all respiratory infections, but we must continue to use all layers of protection,” Sauvé said in an interview.

Sauvé said that babies are at higher risk of serious illness from RSV. Immunocompromised children are also vulnerable, and asthma can be triggered by even a mild episode of respiratory illness, she added.

Influenza levels are also higher than in previous years for this time of year in some parts of the country, PHAC said.

Doctors say other factors, such as burnout and burnout among healthcare professionals, staff pressures, and shortages of pain- and fever-reducing medications for young children are also contributing to the latest challenges in healthcare. hospitals.

While emergency department visits at some children’s hospitals remain high, they are beginning to decline at others. It is not yet known if RSV levels have plateaued.

The Canadian Pediatric Society and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommend that all children six months and older receive an annual influenza vaccine.

It’s safe to get the flu shot and other vaccines at the same time, NACI says.

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