Influenza News, Events & Resources


Very difficult flu season on the horizon

Toronto, ON - Health ministry says it has ordered 300,000 more high-dose flu vaccines for this year. This year's flu season will likely be a bad one, Ontario's health minister said Monday, and the province is stocking up on extra high-strength vaccines in preparation. "We expect that it's going to be a very difficult year," Christine Elliott said after an unrelated announcement. "Based on what's happening in Australia we sort of take a look at what's likely to happen in Ontario." Australian health authorities are reporting an early flu season — unusually high activity for this time of year. Though the overall severity is reported as low, hospitalizations are three times what is normal for this time, and there have been more than 200 deaths so far, according to that country's department of health.  Ontario has already ordered 300,000 more doses of high-dose flu vaccines than last year, bringing the total order to 1.2 million doses, said a spokesman for Elliott.  'The anti-vaxxer theory is out there' That vaccine has four times the amount of antigens than the regular flu shot and is given to more vulnerable people, such as seniors. It can be provided in hospitals, long-term care homes and by primary care providers. Elliott said it was proven particularly effective last year, and that the government will also be rolling out an advertising campaign, encouraging people to get the flu shot. "It's really important to prevent it in the first place, but we also need to be prepared to deal with it when it does strike Ontario, both in terms of hospital care, home care and community care," she said. "We will be advertising to people that we want them to get out and get the flu shot and deal with some of the myths out there about  getting the flu vaccine because ... the anti-vaxxer theory is out there as well as far as the flu vaccine is concerned, too." Elliott did not yet have a specific date when the flu shot will be available, but she said it will be well in advance of flu season. Researchers reported early this year that the previous flu season's vaccine appeared to be highly effective. The analysis by researchers with the Canadian Sentinel Practitioner Surveillance Network and published online in the journal Euro Surveillance, shows it was 72 per cent effective in preventing infection with the H1N1 respiratory virus  overall across all age groups.  In the 2018-19 flu season, 34 per cent of adults in Canada aged 18-64 got the flu shot, and 70 per cent of seniors got it, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

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Flu shot OK for cancer patients on checkpoint inhibitors

A study, reported in MedPage Today, examined incidence of immune-related adverse events after flu vaccination. For cancer patients receiving treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors for cancer, there was no increase in incidence of immune-related adverse events after receiving the flu shot, researchers found. No increase in incidence or severity of immune-related adverse events occurred in these advanced stage cancer patients, mostly with lung cancer and melanoma, within 2 months after receiving the inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV), reported Mini Kamboj, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, and colleagues.

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High-dose influenza vaccination is associated with better outcomes for older adults

Recently published study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal highlights advantages of using the high-dose flu vaccine over the standard-dose vaccination for adults aged 65 and older.

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Influenza vaccine tied to lower hospitalization rates in COPD patients

Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who receive a flu vaccine are significantly less likely to be hospitalized with influenza. Patients with COPD who are hospitalized with the flu are more likely to face serious health consequences than those hospitalized for other acute respiratory infections.

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Not too late to get flu shot, health officials say
Despite early start to 2018-2019 flu season, vaccine still offers benefit. According to Ottawa Public Health, there have been two influenza-related deaths this season.  Health officials are still encouraging people to get vaccinated to protect both themselves and the vulnerable.

Canada falling short on flu vaccinations Just 38% of adults were vaccinated last year — 'too few' for the Public Health Agency of Canada

FluWatch  Public Health Agency of Canada provides updates on flu activity across the country. Subscriptions to the service are free-of-charge. Reports indicate type of Influenza virus that is circulating in all major regions of the country. Influenza and other respiratory viruses are monitored weekly and results reported every Thursday in the Respiratory Virus Detections in Canada Report. More information is available through the following link:


Heart & Stroke recently hosted a webinar on influenza. Dr. Jacob Udell, a cardiologist and researcher at the University of Toronto discussed influenza prevention, its symptoms, and its risks particularly for those aged 65 years and older and living with chronic conditions. View the webinar through the following link:

Ontario Lung Association hosted a health policy webinar with Dr. Alison McGeer. The title of the webinar is Influenza Immunization Update for the 2018/2019 season. You can view the webinar through the following link:

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the Ontario Lung Association (OLA) are holding a Breathing Policy Forum on November 27, 2018 in Toronto. Attendance is limited. Registration is required. COPD Canada will provide a link to the published content from the forum when it becomes available. More information on the Breathing Policy Forum is available through the following link:

Diabetes Canada created a series of 4 webinars for specific high-risk ethic populations: Chinese, Afro-Caribbean, South Asian and Indigenous people. You can view the webinars through the following link:

You can also find articles on influenza and aging on the Diabetes Canada web site by using the search function on the site – search Influenza to locate articles. To read a sample article click on the link following the title below:

Avoid the flu – Especially if you’re 65+

Maclean’s magazine recently published two articles focused on the flu. A link to each article follows the title:

For older Canadians, the flu shot is a lifesaver

Age or chronic conditions make the flu even more dangerous

Personal Stories

Each year 12,200 people in Canada are hospitalized from the flu. Almost 70% of these are seniors. To view a touching story on the effect of the flu on a member of the community watch this:


Educational videos pertaining to influenza and the elderly

Each year 12,200 people in Canada are hospitalized from the flu. Almost 70% of these are seniors. Watch a father and son’s journey with the flu.

Influenza can be serious in adults over 65. Learn about how the high-dose Influenza vaccine may be more effective in protecting older adults against Influenza and its potential complications. Learn about the high-dose flu vaccine.

Influenza resources from Immunize Canada

National Institute on Ageing - Whitepaper on the burden of influenza

International Federation On Ageing - Addressing Barriers To Adult Vaccination 

Watch the webinar recording.

Unmasking the Spanish Flu

Immunize Canada has created an Influenza Pocket Guide which specifically mentions the National Advisory Committee on Immunization’s (NACI) recommendation for the high-dose flu vaccine. The pocket guide provides recommendations for choice of vaccine product for those 6 months up to 65+ as well as for certain high-risk groups. The public section includes a chart on provincial programs; a chart on publicly funded influenza vaccination programs and publicly funded season vaccines. Specific product recommendations are made for those adults 65 and older (high dose TIV). For a copy of the Influenza Pocket Guide click on the following link:

Public Health Agency of Canada As part of the National Immunization Strategy objectives for 2016-2021, vaccination coverage goals and vaccine preventable disease reduction targets were set based on international standards and best practices. The goals and targets are consistent with Canada’s commitment to World Health Organization (WHO) disease elimination targets and Global Vaccine Action Plan, while reflecting the Canadian context. For more information:

Clinical Trials - Influenza

CHEST 2019; 155(1):69-78
Effectiveness of influenza vaccination on hospitalizations and risk factors for severe outcomes in hospitalized patients with COPD
Influenza vaccination significantly reduced influenza-related hospitalization among patients with COPD. Initiatives to increase vaccination uptake and early use of antiviral agents among patients with COPD could reduce influenza-related hospitalization and critical illness and improve health-care costs in this vulnerable population.  ClinicalTrials.govNo.:NCT01517191; URL

Supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Sanofi Pasteur