Influenza (Flu)

View 2018/2019 Flu Clinics Dates

“The flu,” more properly known as seasonal influenza, is a common contagious infection. The flu affects the nose, throat, and lungs. It is spread through droplets that have been coughed or sneezed by someone who has the flu. You can get the flu by shaking hands with someone who has the flu or by touching surfaces that have come into contact with flu droplets, and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Flu symptoms include a sudden fever or feeling feverish as well as a cough and/or a sore throat. It is common to also have a runny or stuffy nose, head- or body-aches, and chills.  You may feel more tired than usual and have a lower appetite. Some people (mostly children) also have nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. According to the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, there are approximately 3,500 deaths related to influenza on average each year in Canada. In Ontario, there are approximately 1,365 influenza-associated deaths per year in Ontario. The highest mortality rate typically occurs among adults 65 years of age and older.  

Where can I get my flu vaccine?

It is easier than ever to get your flu vaccine. Anyone aged six months and older who lives, works or attends school in Ontario is eligible to receive the publicly funded flu vaccine.

You can get your flu vaccine from: 

  • Your primary care provider or family doctor
  • Your local pharmacist
  • Ottawa Public Health has flu clinics, including special clinics for children under 5 years old and their families. The under 5 clinics are by appointment only. Please, call the Ottawa Public Health Information Centre at 613-580-6744 (TTY: 613-580-9656). No appointments are needed for community flu clincis.
What flu vaccines are available this year?

This year’s flu vaccines for children and adults protect against four different flu viruses: two influenza A viruses (A/H1N1 and A/H3N2) and two influenza B viruses (B/Colorado and B/Phuket). This is a quadrivalent influenza vaccine (QIV). Babies and children 6 months to 9 years of age who have never had a flu shot will need 2 doses of the vaccine, given at least 4 weeks apart. Others only need one dose.

A quadrivalent live-attenuated vaccine (Q-LAIV) given as a nasal spray is available for children aged 2-17 years. It is equally effective as the injectable quadrivalent inactivated vaccine. Availability of this vaccine is very limited; check with your vaccine provider ahead of time.

A high-dose flu vaccine is also available for adults 65 years of age and older protecting against three different flu viruses: two influenza A viruses (A/H1N1 and A/H3N2) and one influenza B virus (B/Colorado).  This is a high-dose trivalent vaccine (high-dose TIV).  If you are 65 year old or older, your doctor can help you choose between QIV and high-dose TIV. Fluzone® High-Dose will be available through primary care providers (e.g. physicians and nurse practitioners), participating retirement homes, long-term care homes, hospitals and at Ottawa Public Health community flu clinics.Fluzone® High-Dose will not be available through pharmacies.

What can I do to prevent the flu?

Get your flu shot!

You can help protect yourself against the flu by getting your flu vaccine. The earlier you get the vaccine, the better your chances are to prevent getting the flu. The flu is a viral infection that can have severe complications. Anyone can get the flu virus. The flu is not just a cold. You could miss school, work, parties, holidays, or even end up in the hospital.

The flu vaccine helps your body help itself. The vaccine will trigger your body to fight off infection if you come into contact with the flu. This means you either will not get the flu, or the symptoms will be greatly reduced. Each year, different strains of the flu virus appear. Scientists predict which strains will be most likely to affect us for the coming year. These strains are used to make up the year's flu vaccine. This is why it is important to be immunized each fall.

Getting your flu vaccine is good for everyone. When more people get their flu vaccine, the odds of the flu virus spreading goes down. This protects those who are most vulnerable such as children under five, adults 65 years or older, pregnant women, as well as those living with chronic health conditions like diabetes, cancer, and HIV/AIDS.

In addition to getting your flu shot, these steps also help stop the flu from spreading:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with your arm, not your hand.
  • If you are sick, stay at home and avoid crowds and public gathering.
  • Do not visit hospitalized patients or residents of retirement homes or long-term care homes if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms.
Is the flu vaccine safe?

The flu vaccine is safe for anyone 6 months of age or older who does not have a contraindication to the flu vaccine.

Flu vaccine is contraindicated in persons who had an anaphylactic reaction to the flu vaccine or to a component of the flu vaccine before. If you had an anaphylactic reaction to a flu vaccine before, a consultation with an allergist is recommended prior to flu vaccination. Persons with egg allergy can safely receive any influenza vaccine and do not need any special precautions or testing.

The quadrivalent live-attenuated influenza vaccine given as a nasal spray (Flumist® Quadrivalent) is also contraindicated for the following persons:

  • Individuals with severe or uncontrolled asthma,
  • Children and adolescents 2 to 17 years of age currently receiving aspirin or aspirin-containing therapy,
  • Pregnant women (because of a theoretical risk to the fetus from a vaccine containing live virus), and
  • Persons with immune compromising conditions (because this vaccine contains live virus).
How can my workplace organize a flu clinic?

Workplaces that have an occupational health department can organize a clinic themselves with their own equipment. The application for the 2018-19 period is now closed.
The registration period is typically open for one month starting in June of each year. For more information about registering for the Universal Influenza Immunization Program (UIPP), please visit the Ministry of Health and Long-Term care’s UIIP information page.

What is the difference between a cold and flu?

Many people confuse the terms “cold” and “flu.” Influenza (flu) is a respiratory viral infection that can lead to severe complications. The flu is not just a cold. You could miss school, work, parties, holidays, or even end up in the hospital. Below is a list of common symptoms of the flu compared with a common cold.

Symptom

Influenza (Flu)

Cold

Fever

Frequent
Usually high
Last 3-4 days

Rare

Headache

Frequent
Can be severe

Rare

Aches & Pain

Frequent
Can be severe

Rare, usually mild

Weakness

Moderate to severe
Can last up to 1 month

Not common
Mild

Extreme fatigue

Frequent
Can be severe

Not common

Sniffles or Sneezes

Sometimes

Common

Sore throat

Common

Common

Cough

Usual
Can be severe

Sometimes
Mild to moderate

Complications

Pneumonia, respiratory failure or worsening of underlying medical conditions which can be life-threatening

Sinus or ear infection

What can I do to ease symptoms if I have the flu?

If you have flu-like symptoms, including a fever, a cough, severe headache and/or chills, be sure to:

  • Rest.
  • Drink lots of fluids.
  • Take basic pain or fever relievers if needed.
If I have the flu, when should I call my doctor?

Contact your doctor if symptoms are severe and do not improve after a few days.

There are many ways to get non-emergency medical care. Trained professionals from Telehealth Ontario and the Ottawa Public Health Information Centre can answer your questions by phone, and family doctors, nurses and other health care providers can provide care.

For the latest public health information, you can contact Ottawa Public Health Information Centre at 613-580-6744 (TTY: 613-580-9656) or on Facebook and Twitter (@ottawahealth). To reach Telehealth Ontario, call 1-866-797-0000

Reports
 

Current Season: 2018-2019

Current report: December 12 (week 49) [PDF, 615 kb]

This report provides a overview of the current Influenza season in the City of Ottawa, Ontario. For information on the current influenza season across Ontario see the Ontario Respiratory Pathogen Bulletin, and for Canada see the FluWatch report. Regional syndromic surveillance data on Influenza like Illness (ILI), including hospital admissions and emergency department visits, can be accessed through ILI mapper

Past reports from current season

Past Seasons from 2012-2013 to 2017-2018

Download 2012-2013 to 2017-2018 influenza season comparative report (PDF)

Graph of the number of laboratory-confirmed influenza cases in Ottawa, by influenza season, from 2012-2013 to 2017-2018

Graph showing number of lab confirmed influenza cases by flu week. Graph includes six lines depicting influenza cases for the previous six influenza seasons. Data is also summarized in Figure 1 data table

Date ranges for influenza surveillance (flu weeks) weeks change slightly each season. For ease of interpretation, only 2017-2018 flu week date ranges are captured in the epidemiological curve above.

Data
 Figure Data Table

 

2012-2013

2013-2014

2014-2015

2015-2016

2016-2017

2017-2018

27 Aug

0

0

0

0

1

0

03 Sep

0

0

0

0

0

2

10 Sep

0

0

0

0

1

0

17 Sep

0

0

0

0

1

1

24 Sep

0

0

0

3

0

1

01 Oct

0

0

0

0

0

0

08 Oct

0

0

0

1

1

3

15 Oct

3

0

1

1

0

0

22 Oct

0

0

0

1

0

1

 29 Oct

0

2

0

0

1

0

05 Nov

1

0

1

1

2

0

12 Nov

5

0

0

0

1

4

19 Nov

2

0

0

1

2

3

26 Nov

8

4

5

1

5

9

03 Dec

4

7

7

4

10

3

10 Dec

22

6

21

1

14

13

17 Dec

24

24

51

5

42

25

24 Dec

69

33

65

4

60

36

31 Dec

101

47

97

3

61

72

07 Jan

69

45

98

7

50

85

14 Jan

61

30

74

5

39

76

21 Jan

44

20

56

14

34

59

28 Jan

16

11

63

18

38

62

04 Feb

29

16

53

29

35

89

11 Feb

14

6

46

41

28

106

18 Feb

14

6

49

54

25

118

25 Feb

10

4

26

56

27

117

04 Mar

10

5

34

61

16

72

11 Mar

8

13

44

63

25

46

18 Mar

4

12

38

23

12

41

25 Mar

4

10

24

24

19

39

01 Apr

7

9

12

19

11

36

08 Apr

3

12

14

14

12

28

15 Apr

4

17

14

13

11

13

22 Apr

2

12

10

11

14

8

29 Apr

2

7

14

9

7

8

06 May

2

11

2

12

1

5

13 May

0

8

3

2

7

2

20 May

1

18

0

3

2

0

27 May

0

5

0

2

2

0

03 Jun

0

2

1

0

1

1

10 Jun

0

0

0

0

0

0

17 Jun

0

0

0

0

1

0

24 Jun

0

1

0

0

1

0

01 Jul

0

0

1

0

0

0

08 Jul

1

0

0

0

0

0

15 Jul

0

0

0

0

2

0

22 Jul

0

1

0

0

0

0

29 Jul

0

0

0

0

0

0

05 Aug

0

0

0

0

0

1

12 Aug

0

0

0

0

0

1

19 Aug

0

0

0

0

0

1

26 Aug

0

0

0

0

1

0

Dominant Influenza Strain(s) & Key Flu Activity Periods
 

2012 - 2013

2013 - 2014

2014 - 2015

2015 - 2016

2016 - 2017

2017 - 2018

Dominant influenza strain(s)

A/H3N2

A/H1N1

A/H3N2

A/H1N1

A/H3N2

A/H3N2 and B/Phuket (Yamagata lineage)

First week of flu season

Nov 4- Nov 10, 2012*

Dec 1-7, 2013*

Nov 23-29, 2014*

Jan 17-23, 2016*

Nov 27- Dec 3, 2016

Nov 26- Dec 2, 2017

Week of maximum % test-positivity

Dec 23-29, 2012*

Dec 29, 2013 - Jan 4, 2014*

Dec 28, 2014 - Jan 3, 2015*

Mar 6-12, 2016*

Dec 25-31, 2016*

Feb 25- Mar 3, 2018*

Maximum % test-positivity

33.4%*

29.1%*

34.5%*

34.3%*

19.4%

34%

Peak week of flu season±

Dec 31, 2012-Jan 6, 2013

Dec 31, 2013 - Jan 7, 2014

Jan 7-14, 2015

Mar 10-16, 2016

Dec 31, 2016 -Jan 7, 2017

Peak 1: 
Jan 7-14, 2018

Peak 2:
Feb 18-24, 2018

Laboratory-confirmed Influenza Cases
 

2012 - 2013

2013 - 2014

2014 - 2015

2015 - 2016

2016 - 2017

2017 - 2018

Median age

70 years

54 years

78 years

45 years

71 years

72 years

Total flu cases

544

404

924

506

622

1187

Flu A cases (%)

498 (91%)

300 (74%)

769 (83%)

402 (79%)

544 (87%)

689 (58%)

Flu B cases (%)

46 (8%)

104 (26%)

153 (17%)

104 (21%)

78 (12%)

492 (41%)

Hospitalizations

122

106

234

149

113

Not available

Deaths

13

9

27

7

11

21

Institutional Respiratory Outbreak
 

2012 - 2013

2013 - 2014

2014 - 2015

2015 - 2016

2016 - 2017

2017 - 2018

Total respiratory outbreaks

103

73

156

78

132

148

Flu A outbreaks

50

20

91

14

44

42

Flu B outbreaks

4

8

11

3

3

37

Non-influenza outbreaks

49

45

54

61

85

62

Hospitalizations

Not available

Not available

179

17

46

96

Deaths

Not available

Not available

48

5

19

34

Influenza Immunization (flu vaccine)
 

2012 - 2013

2013 - 2014

2014 - 2015

2015 - 2016

2016 - 2017

2017 - 2018

Vaccine doses distributed

353,800

390,640

380,309

379,333

379,241

392,603

Estimated vaccine coverage

38.2%

41.7%

40%

38.9%

38.0%

38.6%

Vaccine effectiveness (95% CI)¥

50%
(33-63%)

68%
(58-76%)

9%
(0-27%)

46%
(32-57%)

45%
(31-56%)

42%
(22-55%)

Archived Seasonal Respiratory Infections and Enteric Outbreaks Surveillance Reports

2017-2018 Influenza Season

Data Notes

The data presented are current as of Sep 1, 2018.  Unless otherwise stated, information included in this table was extracted from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care integrated Public Health Information System (iPHIS) database by Ottawa Public Health (OPH). iPHIS is a dynamic disease reporting system that allows for ongoing updates to data previously entered. Data extracted from the iPHIS database represent a snapshot at the time of extraction and can be different in previous or subsequent reports.

Influenza cases and respiratory infection outbreaks in institutions and public hospitals meeting Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) case definitions for Diseases of Public Health Significance (DPHS), according to Ontario Public Health Standards: Requirements for Programs, Services, and Accountability (Standards): Infectious Diseases Protocol, are presented. In the City of Ottawa, laboratory confirmation testing of influenza is performed by Public Health Ontario Labs (PHOL) or Eastern Ontario Regional Laboratory Association (EORLA). Changes to DPHS reporting requirements or case definitions, as well as variability in influenza laboratory testing and reporting algorithms at can limit the ability to compare across influenza seasons.

* Influenza laboratory test-positivity data for influenza seasons prior to the 2016-2017 season are unavailable for the City of Ottawa. Ontario data, available from Public Health Ontario (PHO) and accessed here, are included as proxy measures.

First week when 5% or more of samples submitted for laboratory testing were positive for influenza.

Highest % of samples submitted for testing that were positive for influenza during a single week.

± Week when the highest number of new influenza cases were reported to OPH, by accurate episode date.

Deaths and hospitalizations are limited to line-listed resident or patient cases from influenza outbreaks in institutions and public hospitals. Influenza infections are not confirmed through laboratory testing for all line-listed cases, as per MOHLTC reporting case definitions. Generally, up to four sample are tested, the remaining outbreak cases are assumed to be caused by the same respiratory pathogen.

Flu vaccination coverage estimates are based on the number of vaccine doses distributed by OPH each season. Vaccine coverage = number of vaccine doses distributed / Ottawa population estimates for 2018 *100

¥ Flu vaccine effectiveness data are based on the Canadian Sentinel Practitioner Surveillance Network (SPSN) influenza vaccine effectiveness estimates accessed here.

For the latest public health information, you can contact Ottawa Public Health Information Centre at 613-580-6744 (TTY: 613-580-9656) or on Facebook and Twitter (@ottawahealth). To reach Telehealth Ontario, call 1-866-797-0000

 

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