About one in five Manitobans has received a flu shot this year.
That is according to Dr. Davinder Singh, Medical Officer of Health for Southern Health. He says that is down from last year, which saw 28.6 per cent of Manitobans receive a flu shot. In a typical flu season prior to the pandemic, between 20 and 23 per cent of the population was getting vaccinated.
Dr. Singh says the last of the flu shot clinics have now been held for the season within our region. But that does not mean it is too late to get vaccinated. According to Dr. Singh, there is still a lot of vaccine available. He adds a number of pharmacies, medical clinics or public health facilities are still offering the shot.
The doctor says he is not surprised that the percentage of Manitobans to receive a flu shot this year is still down from last flu season. For one thing he says flu season started early this year, which may have interrupted peoples' plans for when to get immunized. Also, he believes last year's higher percentage was thanks in part to the pandemic, suggesting this year will probably be a return to more normal levels.
As mentioned, flu season arrived early this year in southern Manitoba; about six weeks early, according to Dr. Singh. He notes that same trend was noticed in other countries, including Australia.
Dr. Singh says there could be a number of reasons why flu season started early, including the fact that there are more social engagements being permitted at this time of year than in the last two.
With flu season starting six weeks early, one might wonder whether there is a chance that it then ends six weeks early. Dr. Singh says that is a reasonable possibility. He notes Australia noticed their flu season ended earlier than normal. In fact, he notes after Australia's plateau, there was suddenly a very sharp drop in the number of cases.
According to Dr. Singh, Manitoba is currently about six weeks into flu season, which typically peaks after eight to 12 weeks. It then usually plateaus for two to three weeks. Based on that, Dr. Singh says we could see a very sharp decrease in numbers in four to six weeks from now.
Meanwhile, Dr. Singh says based on genetic studies of the virus circulating in Manitoba, it appears the vaccine is a good match for this year's strain.