Provincial health officials say the unprecedented demand for flu vaccine this year has led to 1.4 million  vaccinations so far.

Provincial health officials say the unprecedented demand for flu vaccine this year has led to 1.4 million vaccinations so far.

H1N1 flu death count misleading: officials

Five official B.C. fatalities but more probable; extra vaccine ordered

Public health officials say more B.C. residents have likely died of H1N1 flu this month than the official count of five lab-confirmed deaths so far.

Four of the confirmed H1N1 deaths were on Vancouver Island, while the fifth was in the Interior and there are none officially listed in the Lower Mainland.

According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, there are 49 patients hospitalized in intensive care units with severe influenza as of Jan. 17.

Sixteen of them are in the Fraser Health region and 10 are on Vancouver Island.

But officials say those numbers of deaths understate the true scope of the H1N1 flu fatalities because patients hospitalized with flu-like symptoms – even those who die – are not generally lab tested for a final confirmation of influenza type.

“Most deaths from influenza will probably not have influenza identified,” said Dr. Reka Gustafson, a medical health officer with the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority.

As a result, she said it’s “not a meaningful exercise” to focus on the number of deaths or hospitalizations as that can give a false impression that influenza is less severe.

Based on national averages, the CDC estimates there are up to 520 influenza-related hospital deaths in B.C. in a normal flu season each year.

H1N1 makes up more than 80 per cent of flu cases in B.C. so far this year.

Many pharmacies have run out of vaccine after a late scramble to get immunized.

The province says nearly 1.4 million British Columbians have been vaccinated so far and the “unprecedented demand” has led to temporary gaps in supply.

More vaccine is on order and will be distributed across the province – 5,000 more doses are to arrive during the week of Jan. 21, another 3,000 are expected the week after and the province has requested a further 13,000 doses.

“We’re getting near the end of the influenza immunization campaign, so we won’t have vaccine in every location,” Gustafson said.

She said flu season can continue through March, so late season vaccinations can still help ward off serious illness.

 

 

H1N1 flu this month | Infographics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

TEASE PHOTO: Teens at the Bumpers dance club in Whalley in the 1980s, in a photo posted to the "Bumpers / The Zone OFFICIAL Party Page" on Facebook.com.
SURREY NOW & THEN: Bumpers and other teen dance clubs were big in the 1980s

A weekly look back at Surrey-area landmark sites and events

Gurinder Mann. (Submitted photo)
Surrey man receives prestigious restorative justice award

East Newton resident Gurinder Mann one of five to receive a Community Safety and Crime Prevention Award

An example of a Surrey Police cruiser, showcased at Mayor Doug McCallum’s State of the City Address at Civic Hotel in May of 2019. (File photo: Amy Reid)
Surrey Police Service looking to hire in-house lawyer

Solicitor to work within Office of the Chief Constable, serve on internal and external committees to ‘represent the SPS’s interests’

Surrey provincial court. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
New COVID-19 protocols set for provincial courthouses

The new rules were issued on Jan. 21, and took effect immediately

Tyler Tardi will serve as a fifth on Team Laycock at the 2021 Tim Hortons Brier. (Black Press Media file photo)
Tyler Tardi to serve as alternate for B.C. team at Brier

Langley/Cloverdale curler to serve as ‘fifth’ on Team Laycock at Calgary-hosted championships

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Police in Vancouver looking for male suspect who allegedly spat and attacked a store manager for not wearing a mask, at 7-Eleven near Alma Street and West 10th Avenue just before noon on Dec. 17, 2020. (Vancouver police handout)
VIDEO: Man spits on 7-Eleven manager over mask rule, sparking Vancouver police probe

‘Unfortunately, the store manager sustained a cut to his head during the assault’

The Vancouver-based SAR team successfully rescued two lost snowshoers off of the west side of Tim Jones Peak in the early morning of Monday, Jan. 19. (North Shore Rescue photo)
B.C.’s busiest SAR team raises alarm after 2021 begins with fatality, multiple rescues

‘People beyond ski resort areas of Seymour, Grouse, and Cypress go without cell reception,’ SAR warns

Competitors make their way through the course at the 2019 Canadian Cross Country Championships, which was hosted by Abbotsford in 2019. (File photo)
Abbotsford to host 2023 Canadian Cross Country Championships

Clearbrook Park last hosted the event in 2019, Ottawa hosting 2021 and 2022 races

Most Read