This year’s strain of influenza has proven particularly dangerous for young children because they have not previously been exposed to strains of the H1N1 virus. Three children have died of flu-related illness in the western province of Saskatchewan as did another three people. So far, influenza has sent 14 people to intensive care units there.
Dr. Laurentiu Givelichian, Saskatchewan’s head of pediatrics told CBC that children with this strain of flu “have a tendency to be sicker than usual. Their oxygen level goes down quite fast compared to previous years.”
Get vaccinated, urge health authorities
Health authorities are urging people to get vaccinations to protect themselves and their children. Public vaccination campaigns in Canada began in October 2018 but until now, only one-third of children in Saskatchewan have taken advantage of them.
Hospitalization rates for children are up across Canada during this flu season which began in the latter part of 2018. Admission rates for children under the age of five were 117 in the 2016-17 season, 195 in 2017-18 and up dramatically to 414 so far in 2018-2019.
Death rates among children are usually low
The death of a child is always a terrible shock. Around five young children die per 1,000 lives births in Canada, according to the UN agency which collects such statistics.
That compares with four in the U.K., Germany and Australia, seven in the U.S., eight in Russia and nine in China.