Okanagan flu season strikes early and hard

The flu season in the Okanagan and within the Interior Health region has struck early and hard.

The flu shot. This season, many got it and those who didn’t might be wishing they did. That’s because there’s a flu outbreak within Interior Health’s jurisdiction.

Dr. Sue Pollock of Interior Health says this year’s flu numbers are up significantly over this time last year.

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“We are seeing an increase in cases of influenza and a little bit earlier than last year,” said Dr. Pollock. “Of our laboratory confirmed cases across the whole health authority, we’ve seen about 400 between September and this past week. At around this time last year, we had seen about 185.”

Dr. Pollock speculates why this year’s numbers are so high is because the flu season peaked earlier this year. Last year, it peaked during the second week of January.

Despite the increase in flu cases, Kelowna pharmacist Navi Bal says she hasn’t seen a spike in clients looking for relief from the flu.

“I haven’t seen more than previous years. I’ve seen some but no overly [big difference],” Bal said.

Bal figures that’s because many of her clients have educated themselves about the benefits of getting the flu shot.

“Seems like people are more aware and most are getting flu shots now. We’re trying educate the public about that,” Bal said.

It’s not too late to get a flu shot for this season. But if you didn’t get a shot and you’ve come down the flu, take Dr. Pollock’s advice: Don’t spread it to others.

“There are a lot of people who are not healthy, who are more vulnerable to the flu and we want to protect those people,” said Dr. Pollock. “So if you are ill, stay home.”

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