Provincial health officials say the unprecedented demand for flu vaccine this year has led to 1.4 million vaccinations so far.

H1N1 flu death count misleading: officials

Five official B.C. fatalities but more probable; extra vaccine ordered

Public health officials say more B.C. residents have likely died of H1N1 flu this month than the official count of five lab-confirmed deaths so far.

Four of the confirmed H1N1 deaths were on Vancouver Island, while the fifth was in the Interior and there are none officially listed in the Lower Mainland.

According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, there are 49 patients hospitalized in intensive care units with severe influenza as of Jan. 17.

Sixteen of them are in the Fraser Health region and 10 are on Vancouver Island.

But officials say those numbers of deaths understate the true scope of the H1N1 flu fatalities because patients hospitalized with flu-like symptoms – even those who die – are not generally lab tested for a final confirmation of influenza type.

“Most deaths from influenza will probably not have influenza identified,” said Dr. Reka Gustafson, a medical health officer with the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority.

As a result, she said it’s “not a meaningful exercise” to focus on the number of deaths or hospitalizations as that can give a false impression that influenza is less severe.

Based on national averages, the CDC estimates there are up to 520 influenza-related hospital deaths in B.C. in a normal flu season each year.

H1N1 makes up more than 80 per cent of flu cases in B.C. so far this year.

Many pharmacies have run out of vaccine after a late scramble to get immunized.

The province says nearly 1.4 million British Columbians have been vaccinated so far and the “unprecedented demand” has led to temporary gaps in supply.

More vaccine is on order and will be distributed across the province – 5,000 more doses are to arrive during the week of Jan. 21, another 3,000 are expected the week after and the province has requested a further 13,000 doses.

“We’re getting near the end of the influenza immunization campaign, so we won’t have vaccine in every location,” Gustafson said.

She said flu season can continue through March, so late season vaccinations can still help ward off serious illness.

 

 

H1N1 flu this month | Infographics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

QUIZ: How much do you know about British Columbia?

On this B.C. Day long weekend, put your knowledge of our province to the test

Port Alberni company earns $10,000 grant from Canadian Chamber of Commerce

Company produces specialized equipment for large-scale mining, logging machinery

Bread of Life receives $10,000 donation from Western Forest Products

The donation will go towards COVID-19 community response

Port Alberni goaltender continuing hockey career at college

Jaysen MacLean commits to the University of Jamestown Jimmies

Road construction will affect Highway 4 traffic east of Port Alberni

Temporary detour onto Highway 4 in Whiskey Creek for culvert work starts Aug. 4, 2020

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Alleged impaired driver sparks small wildfire near Lytton after crash: B.C. RCMP

Good Samaritans prevented the blaze from getting out of control

Travel restrictions inspiring co-operation in border communities

Small border towns are asking for exemption to travel ban

B.C. First Nation adopts ‘digital twinning’ software to better manage territory

Software allows users to visualize what a mountain might look like if the trees on its slopes were logged

Woman arrested near Nanaimo beach after alleged road rage incidents

37-year-old woman facing charges including assault, assaulting a police officer, impaired driving

All inquiry recommendations implemented after fatal Port Hardy RCMP shooting: Ministry

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. cleared the RCMP officers involved of wrongdoing

Leave your deets when dining: Restaurants taking personal info to trace COVID-19

Health officials say indoor dining presents a higher risk

Most Read