In addition to COVID-19, the H1N1 flu worries

2023-12-14 06:10:45

Only 16% of Quebecers have been vaccinated since October against COVID-19, and 17.5% against influenza, which this year is influenza A (H1N1) which Public Health still fears. The main concern of the authorities? The fact that barely more than one in two Quebecers, aged 70 and over, have been vaccinated.

The Dr Luc Boileau, national director of public health, notes a certain “vaccine fatigue” which he deplores.

There is no longer any question of masks, confinement or the cancellation of Christmas parties. The fact remains that there is currently a triple circulation of respiratory viruses. Cases of COVID-19 and influenza continue to increase. For respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the number of cases is down slightly, but remains high.

However, these days, barely 10,000 people per day are vaccinated, even though this year’s influenza is influenza A (H1N1) which caused so much concern in 2009, recalls the Dr Boileau.

And cases are increasing rapidly. “A month ago, the positivity rate was less than 1% […] and it is currently at 7%. »

In Alberta, continues the Dr Boileau, this same influenza positivity rate “went from 3% to 35%”.

Which virus is Public Health most worried about? For the elderly, pregnant women and people with chronic illnesses, Dr Boileau responds that both COVID-19 and influenza are a concern.

For children, the Dr Boileau says he is especially worried about influenza. He emphasizes that the vaccine against this virus is also offered to them, even if Public Health does not make a formal recommendation.

As for COVID-19, the variant that is likely to appear at Christmas is JN.1.

Nearly 5,300 cases of COVID-19 were recorded over the past week, representing an increase of 6%. The province deplores 71 deaths attributed to COVID-19 over the past week, or 10 per day on average. There are also 2,222 people hospitalized with this virus, a relatively stable figure over the last week.

“We do not expect COVID to decline in the coming weeks,” says the Dr Boileau.

Certainly, “it is not a serious illness for most of those who contract it.” A sore throat, cough, runny nose, fatigue, muscle pain, headache, fever: these are its manifestations, which last about a week, “with latent fatigue which lasts for two weeks” , specifies the Dr Boileau.

But once again, in addition to pregnant women and people with chronic illnesses, what worries him are people aged 70 and over, who remain particularly vulnerable.

Public Health estimates that 5% to 10% of Quebecers have never had COVID-19. But according to data dating from mid-summer, underlines the Dr Boileau, “around 23% of people aged 70 and over have never had it”.

They are therefore particularly at risk, while being much less inclined than during the first waves to be vaccinated. During previous vaccination campaigns, up to 90% of people aged 70 and over had been vaccinated, far, far from the current rates of 52% to 55% in this age group (56.2% of 70 years and over have received the influenza vaccine).

Perhaps they fear the combined effects of several vaccines? Or do they feel like they are already protected by vaccines received in recent years? It should not be, according to the Dr Boileau. Research does not indicate any danger in the accumulation of vaccines against COVID-19, approximately every 8 to 12 months, explains the national director of public health. And while the “old” vaccines offer some protection, it fades over time.

And yes, we can catch COVID-19 even if we have been vaccinated, but the important thing is that the vaccine protects us more against serious forms of the disease, those which can lead to hospitalization, recalls the Dr Boileau.

He would also like to see health personnel – who remain particularly exposed – be vaccinated more. Its vaccination rate (16.2% for COVID-19, 18.8% for influenza) is similar to that of the general population.

Christmas is coming and the Dr Boileau hopes that people who experience symptoms will stay home, especially if tiny babies have just been born in the family.

#addition #COVID19 #H1N1 #flu #worries

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