So far, this flu season, it is young children who are most vulnerable to the illness.
“What we are seeing is the greatest cases of influenza in children are in children who have not received their flu shot. And that is because it hasn’t worked in those children,” Kathy Reichs, a neonatologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, told Fox News.
According to Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, if you have not received your flu shot, do so now. A spokesperson with the ministry, Stephanie Reitz, told Fox News the flu season isn’t over yet and flu season peaks in January and February.
If you have an annual appointment with a physician who does not currently offer flu vaccinations, you can ask them to offer it, the spokesperson said. She also said that prevention is the best form of treatment.
“You can get through these things in 90 days,” Reichs said. “No treatment needed, that’s the good thing to say.”
Toronto’s Board of Health on Monday began doling out free flu shots to children under the age of 6, Fox News reported.
According to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the virus “spreads rapidly among people who are not regularly vaccinated and in infants younger than 6 months.”
To protect young children against the flu, public health experts have recommended the flu shot for several years.
For the 2018-2019 flu season, Public Health Ontario (PHO) estimates up to 90 percent of people living in Ontario will likely catch the flu. Despite a late start to flu season, PHO has included a flu shot option in the province’s public immunization schedule for children under six and people 65 and older.
“Influenza is very unpredictable,” Reichs said. “Some years it’s very widespread and very difficult. Some years it’s relatively high and easy to get the flu.”
On average, there are approximately 20 to 40 flu-related deaths reported in Canada each year, according to the Centre for Disease Control.
In Canada, 34.3 percent of Canadians had received the vaccine last year, the highest rate in 10 years, according to data published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
“The first few days are of worry,” Reichs said. “You don’t want to think about it. But then you just gradually get over it, and it doesn’t take that long for your body to adjust.”
Fox News’ Miriam Falco contributed to this report.