“This flu vaccine has three parts …it has two ‘A’s and one ‘B’,” explains Dr. William Osei of Northern Health. “This year, one of the ‘A’s was not exactly the type that we wanted to hit – so we call that a mismatch. [However] there’s something we call ‘cross-protection’ or ‘cross-immunization’ from the other one that we give.”

Dr. Osei adds, “Although it’s not exact, we didn’t hit the bull’s-eye but it hit around it and it still has some level of protection.”

Dr. Osei says this year Northern Health has reported 23 cases of H3N2 – down significantly from the 47 cases of H1N1 reported at this point last year. It is important to note that these numbers are only ball-parked, as many do not seek medical attention when they comedown with the flu, and therefore are not reported.

The symptoms of H3N2 are almost exactly the same as H1N1, with the only difference being the latter carrying more infectious elements.

“The only outbreak that we’ve seen this year [has been] in the school[s].”

If a region within Northern Health’s care experiences a flu outbreak, they will then re-distribute the vaccines to the areas of most need.

“If there is a community that is seeing a shortage of flu vaccine or higher demand than another community, what we do is, we move flu vaccines around from community to community, to make sure that people who would like a flu shot are able to access it,” Northern health representative Jonathon Dyck said.

Protecting yourself from H3N2 

Northern Health is also offering the following advice in an effort to reduce the chance of catching the virus and/or spreading it to a loved-one:

  • Ensure you’ve received an up-to-date immunization shot
  • Thoroughly wash your hand throughout the day
  • Immediately dispose of any used tissues
  • Cough/sneeze into your sleeve
  • Stay home from work when feeling ill