OHSWEKEN – Medical officials say the effectiveness of this season’s flu shot has been extremely low, with the vaccine preventing only 10 to 20 per cent of infections caused by the dominant H3N2 strain affecting Canadians, researchers have found.
“That means people who were vaccinated should not consider themselves invincible for this season,” said lead researcher Dr. Danuta Skowronski, an infectious diseases expert at the BC Centre for Disease Control.“The bottom line is the protection for the H3N2 virus is low this season.”
Currently Southern Ontario is getting hit by two strains of the influenza A & B – causing a greater number of people falling sick this season all at the same time.
Three school aged children – a ten year old Waterdown boy and two elementary school students from Guelph have died since Jan 31 from this year’s outbreak.
The province says although the flu is now widespread across the province – official numbers are not as high as the pandemic sweeping the United States. Reports from Health Canada’s FluWatch says most of the recorded deaths from this year’s flu viruses have been in those age 65 or older.
So what can families do to help fight the flu when it does come?
Keeping hydrated is one key action to take. The human body requires a minimum amount of water every day to flush toxins from the body. Running a fever can work to dehydrate the body. This is why doctors recommend taking additional electrolyte beverages for both adults and children when a cold or flu hits.
Mucous that is created by a respiratory virus or infection can also be thinned out if you are properly hydrated. If your body is dehydrated that mucous can become thicker and harder to cough out of the way.
Make sure you’re drinking good amounts of water, juices or other clear fluids like bone broth – and stay away from caffeine which can also dehydrate you.
In terms of medicine you can also take over the counter flu medications to treat symptoms.
Johanne McCarthy is a Naturopathic Doctor from the Onondaga Nation at Six Nations. She says there are several supplements that can help people through this year’s flu.
“We will survive this outbreak if we do things like vitamin D (1000iu per day); vitamin A (10,000iu per day) and elderberry syrup (1tsp per day).” says McCarthy. All of these are common items found in local drugstores.
However, McCarthy warns women should not take Vitamin A while pregnant.
Patients who are suffering from the flu and have a complex list of chronic conditions should check with a doctor or pharmacist before taking things in combination with their regular medications.
McCarthy says consulting with a naturopathic doctor is an option for those who are looking for a more natural way to make it through this year’s flu season.
“We are licenced and regulated in Ontario and know how to help collaborate with existing pharmaceutical regimes safely,” says McCarthy.
When children are going through this year’s flu, McCarthy says it’s ok to trust that instinct pushing for full investigation by doctors.
McCarthy says it’s appropriate for parents to be direct in their child’s medical care, even if that means insisting their children receive a chest xray to rule out bacterial pneumonia. She says some pediatric patients have been wrongly administered steroids in the past for a virual flu. This, she says, can make the situation worse and allow bacteria to take over as steroids can blunt the body’s natural immune response.