Children are devastated in the current flu season



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Winter is on our side, but the local health unit urges people who have not received flu shots this season to get it.

Dax Melmer / Windsor Star

It may have entered winter, but the local health unit still urged residents to get flu vaccinations, and so that their children were vaccinated.

Children are devastated by the current flu season, according to the latest influenza update by the Windsor-Essex District Health Unit.

Wajid Ahmed, acting health unit medical officer, reported 43 percent of flu cases so far this season have occurred in children under 10 years. Last flu season, the same demographics accounted for only nine percent of cases.

"This year, the dominant type is the H1N1 variant, which has a tendency to target children and adolescents," Ahmed said. He hopes to see more cases reported before the beginning of April, when the flu season ends.

The H1N1 strain of influenza A virus, commonly called swine flu, is the same that caused panic throughout the country in 2009. That year, thousands of cases were confirmed in Canada. Hundreds of people have died from the type of H1N1 flu.

Many people consider flu as a disease that attacks most elderly people because of their weakened immune system, Ahmed said. But that is not the case, he added, with even healthy adults getting the virus and spreading it to vulnerable individuals, both young and old.

"It is very important for children and adolescents to get vaccinations," Ahmed said, adding that this year's vaccine is a suitable partner for the tensions circulating in the community. Individuals can get flu shots anytime until the end of the season. Once they do, it takes two weeks for the vaccine to be effective.

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"Important people are taken care of, not only themselves, but the people they love too," Ahmed said.

Not all flu cases were reported to the health council, he said. People must be sick enough to visit a doctor, who then has to decide whether to take the swab for testing. The surge in people showing respiratory flu symptoms shows the number of people with the virus remains high, Ahmed said.

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