Island Health reports spike in respiratory infections in children

Island Health reports spike in respiratory infections in children
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At the first Island Health flu clinic of the season, these parents are lining up to get the shot.

This clinic is for families with children older than six months and younger than six years.

Too young for the COVID vaccine, their parents are doing what they can.

Between September first and October 20, Island Health reports a total of 974 patients under 18 years old coming to emergency departments with respiratory illnesses, a 36 per cent increase over 2019.

BC’s Minister of Health, Adrian Dix, said the government is bracing for a return of influenza.

“Our expectation, our concern to address respiratory illnesses of all kinds this year, and especially influenza. That’s why we made the decision to purchase 2.46 million doses of influenza vaccine. that is a massive increase from 1.5 million we did two years ago,” said Dix.

Up to 40 COVID-19 patients are admitted every day to BC hospitals, many are transferred to the island from other parts of the province.

Pediatrician Dr. Matt Harding said this year is more important than ever for children to be vaccinated against influenza.

“I think it’s imperative that kids get the flu vaccine if they are able to. We’re going into a winter that’s looking more like our baseline rates of hospitalization for kids with all sorts of different viruses.”

Harding said there are already patients admitted with respiratory illnesses.

“There’s been a number of patients coming into the emergency with respiratory illnesses, and some of those patients have had to be admitted to the pediatric wards as well.”

Health Canada is reporting just a handful of flu cases across the country.

The question now is, how much will that change.

WATCH: Huge demand for flu shot leaves seniors, parents frustrated with system

A statement from Island Health:

  • While Island Health has not observed any flu activity yet within our region, we have noted an increase in respiratory virus activity compared to this time last year.
  • This only reinforces the importance of getting vaccinated against both COVID-19 and influenza.
  • The same layers of protection we have all practiced to protect against the spread of COVID-19 are also effective in mitigating the spread of other respiratory viruses.
  • This includes wearing a mask in indoor public settings, frequent handwashing, avoiding touching your face and staying home if you are sick or feel unwell.
  • Between September 1, 2019, and October 20, 2019, Island Health emergency departments saw a total of 718 pediatric (under 18 years old) respiratory presentations.
  • Between September 1, 2021, and October 20, 2021, Island Health emergency departments saw a total of 974 pediatric (under 18 years old) respiratory presentations.
  • This represents a 36% increase when comparing the same time periods in 2019 and 2021.
  • It is important to note for context that from January 2021 to October 2021, pediatric respiratory emergency department presentations represent only 1% of all emergency department visits.


Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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