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

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

Wainwright Marine Services Ltd.’s “Ingenika” tugboat went missing in the Garner Canal area south and east of Kitimat on Feb. 11, resulting in two deaths and the rescue of a third man. (Wainwright Marine Photo)
Tug union demands Transport Canada protect workers along B.C. coast and rivers

ILWU makes safety demands following the deaths of two men and the rescue of a third

High winds blow wet snow in Prince Rupert on Feb. 24. The region is expecting two to four cm of snow and winds up to 100 km per hour. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
High wind warnings for North Coast, up to 4 cm of snow expected

Wet snow makes driving conditions in Prince Rupert slippery

Pink shirt day was celebrated at Pineridge Elementary School by staff and students in a stand against bullying. Mr. Craig, a work-experience student from Charle Hays Secondary School is seen with students in front of the hearts for kindness board on Feb. 24. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Pineridge students stand against bullying

Prince Rupert students in the pink with kindness

A Prince Rupert neighbourhood on Feb. 23, showing various housing with an apartment building development in the background. Housing advocates in the city say affordable housing is scarce.(Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Prince Rupert Recruitment campaign creates housing availability debate

“There is a serious disconnect here, with the new recruitment campaign,” - Paul Lagace

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP will not trigger election as long as pandemic continues: Singh

‘“We will vote to keep the government going’

“Support your city” reads a piece of graffiti outside the Ministry of Finance office. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Slew of anti-bylaw graffiti ‘unacceptable’ says Victoria mayor, police

Downtown businesses, bylaw office and Ministry of Finance vandalized Wednesday morning

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

Most Read