Health Minister John Haggie says a potentially less-than-perfect flu vaccine doesn’t mean people should skip their flu vaccine this year.
Haggie says there are suggestions that one of the four strains of the virus contained in this year’s influenza vaccine is less than perfect.
“The efficacy of the flu vaccine can only be determined at the end of a season,” said Haggie.
“Yes, there might be concerns about one of the four elements, but at the end of the day there’s still the other three and still a significant benefit to be had by getting a flu shot, even now.”
Haggie says the flu vaccine is provided by the federal government, so there’s really nothing the province can do to help with the effectiveness of the vaccine.
Some long-term care facilities have issued warnings on the west coast and in central Newfoundland, restricting visitation as a precaution against the flu season.
When it comes to how the developers missed the mark with the vaccine, it’s largely due to doctors at the World Health Organization having to try to predict what strains of the flu will be prominent in an upcoming flu season. While their research and work is generally very effective, sometimes an unexpected mutation in the virus can cause a vaccine to be less effective.
The most recent numbers from the Department of Health show things in this province seem fairly normal in terms of the amount of influenza being spread. Nationally, things appear to be a little worse than average.
The department notes there were no influenza outbreaks reported in Newfoundland and Labrador so far during this flu season.
Haggie says all people can really do is monitor their own health, wash their hands a little more than usual and stay away from anyone who is at greater risk should they be infected with the flu.
Most importantly, he says, people still need to get their flu shot.
“There’s no downside to it, unless there’s some medical (reason). It’s your best chance of preventing the flu.