No crises yet but officials are urging the public to get flu shots as quickly as possible.
Toronto (21 Jan. 2011) - Ontario hospitals are working together in an "unprecedented" way to cope with a wave of flu patients now jamming emergency departments, says Health Minister Deb Matthews.With vaccination levels down from previous years, the number of flu cases has risen sharply across the province. Officials say 2,518 cases have been confirmed so far, up from 1,075 cases just two weeks ago."There's no question, we've had a lower vaccination rate this year than in past years, and we're seeing the result in our emergency departments today," Matthews says."Our hospitals are working very hard to work with the increased pressure, and by-and-large, they're doing a very, very good job," she told CBC News.Matthews says the province is monitoring the situation closely and following where the outbreaks are occurring.She is urging everyone who hasn't received a flu shot to get the vaccine as soon as possible.The province has five million doses of the vaccine in reserve and about four million have been distributed. However, estimates suggest that only slightly more than 20% of people have received shots to date.The pandemic vaccine distributed last year does not offer protection from this year's H3N2 influenza, a strain that is especially hard on the very young and the very old as well as pregnant women, officials say.NUPGEThe National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE