Toronto swats off first dose of human COVID-19 flu

Image copyright LGIFF Image caption Children were vaccinated in a high-risk area of Toronto, Toronto Police said Toronto and several of its suburbs are under an extreme cold weather alert after the city reported…

Toronto swats off first dose of human COVID-19 flu

Image copyright LGIFF Image caption Children were vaccinated in a high-risk area of Toronto, Toronto Police said

Toronto and several of its suburbs are under an extreme cold weather alert after the city reported its first case of human COVID-19.

This flu strain is particularly dangerous because it can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure and serious breathing problems, particularly for those with heart and lung problems.

Children and senior citizens are among those at risk.

Read more: How health services prepare for flu season

Health officials have called for people aged between six months and 74 years old to get vaccinated.

The storm alert will remain in place until health officials are satisfied that conditions are safe for the public to go outside.

Children and seniors in high-risk areas are being given shots before the storm alert is lifted, with further children being vaccinated on Friday.

Children under age six who are not otherwise protected can still be vaccinated until the extreme cold alert is lifted.

Vaccines for pregnant women are also being given to protect their unborn children against influenza.

Toronto cold weather alerts are issued to notify residents that extreme cold can pose health risks and to guide people about how to protect themselves.

The Department of Health and Wellness says there have been 10 deaths from flu in the Greater Toronto Area and 300 hospitalisations.

Since January, 214 cases of influenza have been reported, 82 in children under the age of five.

The bug appears to be striking disproportionately among young children and older people, with the Greater Toronto Area reporting 14 of 30 outbreaks of influenza A flu since the beginning of October.

Toronto’s Public Health said the city has had 10 reported cases of COVID-19 this flu season. None of those cases is “officially lab-confirmed”, but only 30% of patients are recovering.

The virus has also been detected in the mountains of Niagara.

The virus affects people with other health problems, such as heart and lung disease, and those who are obese or have weakened immune systems.

Read more: What to do if you think you have the flu

How will flu vaccines change next year?

Sources in government and the vaccine industry told Healthweek magazine they expect next year’s vaccines to contain a new flu strain, which is expected to be safe and effective in fighting deadly strains.

The new strain may also be slightly different in how it affects people who are often targeted by flu viruses, such as the elderly.

The new seasonal flu strain was part of the 2017-18 vaccine, which was intended to protect against the H3N2, which has been linked to pneumonia and death, and the H1N1, which caused the global flu pandemic of 1918.

Last year, however, only 10% of the public got the vaccine, partly because it is given only in October, and people can take several months to build up a resistance.

Dr Michael Gardam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said he was surprised that only 10% of Canadians got the vaccine last year.

“One reason we were not pleased with uptake of last year’s vaccine was because of the unpredictable nature of how people respond to the vaccine. We had expected more Canadians to respond, but maybe they were unaware of the importance of the vaccine and who to get it from,” he said.

The government is making 30m doses of vaccine available across the country, with only 56,000 doses made available for Canadians outside of Toronto’s 416 region.

Vaccination results in about 99% protection, Healthweek says. However, having not grown up in an area with high levels of flu, and never received a flu shot, patients such as Debbie Drosos are only now getting vaccinated.

“You don’t get flu. You get fever, cough and a stuffy nose.” Debbie says.

“But in all seriousness, it’s good to get vaccinated, even if you think you have the flu,” says Dr Gardam.

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