War on flu: DC superheroes donate more than $1m to stop spread of disease

The city of Toronto is getting some help from DC Entertainment and some of the Justice League in an effort to combat the spread of a potentially deadly strain of influenza that has sickened…

War on flu: DC superheroes donate more than $1m to stop spread of disease

The city of Toronto is getting some help from DC Entertainment and some of the Justice League in an effort to combat the spread of a potentially deadly strain of influenza that has sickened more than 40 children and killed five others.

The Vaccine Production Company, an arm of the Toronto Stollery Children’s Hospital, on Saturday announced a $1m funding agreement between the C2 Foundation and the companies behind DC’s Justice League superheroes. The agreement provides vaccines worth $2.4m to the hospital, including some that will be used in efforts to prevent the spread of the virus this winter.

“Flu is a disease that impacts everyone in some way, including children,” said Dr. Linda Roberts, medical director of the Vaccine Production Company. “This funding will help protect Toronto children, communities and businesses from flu and the impact this disease has on healthcare and workplaces.”

The pandemic-prevention vaccine contains the neuraminidase inhibitors Tamiflu and Relenza, which may prevent flu – but not cases of severe illness – in adults and children up to the age of 64. A strain of the flu that is resistant to Tamiflu and Relenza are being suspected of the unprecedented outbreak in Canada and the US.

Friday’s Canadian guidelines, the first flu warning for Canada for 10 years, recommend anyone older than six months take Tamiflu or Relenza as a preventative measure, and women, pregnant women and the elderly have been advised to take Tamiflu or Relenza during pregnancy. The National Post reported this week that Canada’s defence minister, Carla Qualtrough, had put her pet dog on Tamiflu.

A 6-year-old girl from Port Dover, Ontario, died on Wednesday after being admitted to hospital the day before, and on Thursday an infant in Markham, Ontario, was hospitalized. Health officials in Toronto, including the city’s health commissioner, called for a large-scale vaccination drive in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus.

“Vaccines are important to keep us healthy, and our investigation into the origin of the widespread illness in Ontario indicates that an unidentified virus may be making the rounds,” Roberts said in a statement. “We have seen more than 40 children who were infected with influenza, with five of them being fatal.”

Hurdles to vaccination against COVID-19

Harald Safratowich, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Toronto, said that despite the large number of affected children, he is not sure why more doctors are choosing to report the serious flu strain – and why they are not prescribing Tamiflu to those with symptoms of flu.

“That doesn’t happen very often,” he said. “It’s very unfortunate that a community in Canada is having such a massive problem and no one knows why. It’s one of the many mysteries we’re trying to solve.”

Hurdles to vaccination against COVID-19

Who qualifies for a flu shot? Flu vaccines are given to everyone in high-risk groups, such as pregnant women, children younger than age six months, and those older than 65. Residents of the Toronto metropolitan area are at high risk because many more Canadians live in its confines.

The restrictions on who can receive a flu shot and who can not are determined by region and say nothing about people living in other parts of the country.

Who should get a flu shot? Subsidized Canadian health insurance means no one should be denied the flu shot. But in most provinces, the minimum age for receiving a flu shot remains at 18, regardless of whether the person is being vaccinated for influenza.

Flu vaccinations take about two weeks to become effective.

Who should not get a flu shot? With only about 30% of Canadians getting a flu shot, authorities don’t recommend people under 16 get vaccinated for both its effectiveness and to preserve the right of people under 16 to make their own health decisions.

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