KAWARTHA LAKES-The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPRDHU) is reporting its first case of influenza for the 2021-2022 flu season in the City of Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland County and Haliburton County.
Officials say this is the first lab-confirmed case of influenza in two years since no flu activity was reported across the Health Unit region during the 2020-2021 influenza season.
“Typically, we have many more influenza cases in our region much earlier in the flu season, but this is something else that the pandemic has turned upside down,” says Dr. Natalie Bocking, Medical Officer of Health with the HKPR District Health Unit. “Given the prevalence of COVID-19, especially the highly-infectious Omicron variant, it’s little wonder that influenza has been crowded out over the past two winters.”
Public health precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19 have also helped to limit the spread of other respiratory illnesses like influenza, Bocking adds.
“Measures like masking, physical distancing, increased handwashing and limits on gatherings not only help to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but are very effective to protect against influenza,” Dr. Bocking notes.
With influenza now circulating in the region and most COVID-19 restrictions lifted, the Health Unit encourages area residents to keep up their efforts to stop the spread of illness.
Health officials say the influenza vaccine is “safe”, “effective”, and still available at local pharmacies and health care providers.
“It is safe to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu shot at the same time, so if you’re receiving your flu shot and still have yet to receive a first, second or booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine, now is the time to get them,” Dr. Bocking adds.
To further stop the spread of illness, the Health Unit also advises:
- Washing your hands thoroughly and often.
- Sneezing and coughing into your sleeve.
- Staying home from work and school if you are sick.
- Keeping your body’s immune system strong by eating well, getting sufficient sleep and being physically active.