The flu season of 2017-2018 was one of the toughest ones for Nova Scotia where 63 people died of influenza, although the number might be higher than officially announced. Besides, the flu deaths in Nova Scotia doubled in 2017-2018, given that in the previous influenza outbreak of 2016 killed only 30 people.
Despite the gloomy statistics, virologists say that the number of deaths in 2017-2018 flu season increased because of the influenza strain that affected Canada, which was the H3N2 which is more virulent and life-threatening than others.
“We certainly had a more significant, more severe flu season last year. But every indicator we used to track flu last year was within the range of normal,” stated Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s public chief health officer.
Faulty vaccines behind the increased flu-related death toll in Nova Scotia
All the 63 persons killed by influenza during the 2017-2018 flu season were aged above 65, even though 90-95% of the old adults between 65 and 70 had their flu shots in time.
According to the vaccine skeptics, the vaccines were faulty last season and useless against influenza. On the other hand, the medical experts come with a more plausible explanation.
“You have a more severe strain, especially in the elderly, coupled with a strain where you tend to get less effectiveness from the vaccine,” said Strang referring to the H3N2 flu virus strain that affected Canada and the US in the 2017-2018 season.
Luckily, no children were among the victims of the 2017-2018 flu season
According to the national statistics, only 38.9 percent of children between six months and 5 years of age were immunized last year, while only 16.4 percent of pregnant women got the flu shot in Nova Scotia.
And precisely these two groups are the most vulnerable to influenza.
“We are fortunate that we did not have any children died last year from influenza, which we’ve had in the past,” said Dr. Robert Strang.