Those in at-risk groups include people aged 65 and old, pregnant women and people with chronic diseases. Previous year at this time, 91 people had died from the flu. Eighty-five per cent of children admitted to intensive care because of the flu are under the age of 10, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Data suggests that more people got vaccinated earlier this year than they did last year, perhaps motivated by memories of the prior season.
But after the Southern Hemisphere experienced a much milder flu season about six months ago, health experts are hopeful this year won't be as bad.
Since December 1 last, there have been 39 confirmed cases in the Mid-West, and 26 of these detections were resident in Limerick.
Thirteen flu-related deaths have been reported nationally by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Walshak says it's not too late to get the flu shot.
Limerick-based Dr Kevin Kelleher, the assistant national director in health protection, said that flu levels are likely to increase over the coming weeks when the flu begins to actively circulate in the community.
Traditionally, the H1N1 component is better at halting the spread of that strain of the virus, compared to H3N2, which has a greater propensity to genetically mutate, often in the manufacturing process.
Dr Kelleher said that while most people will get better themselves from flu, anyone who was concerned about their condition should telephone their GP or an out-of-hours medical service so they could arrange to be treated in a way that did not put others at risk.
"So we would like everybody who's eligible to get the vaccine", said Russell, noting that it takes about two weeks for antibodies induced by the shot to come into full effect. It also misstated the percentage of children that make up B.C.'s population.