The flu season has begun in Ottawa.  Outbreaks are being reported at four long term care centres and retirement homes. This year’s virus is particularly aggressive but is included in the current influenza vaccine.

If you haven't had your influenza shot yet you may want to consider it after hearing this.  So far, Ottawa Public Health has 14 lab-confirmed cases in the city. Almost all of those cases are the influenza A strain which, according to Dr. Rosamund Lewis, Ottawa’s Associate Medical Officer of Health, is a more aggressive strain of the flu.  Two-thirds of those people sick with the flu are over 65 years of age.

Ottawa Public Health has confirmed an outbreak at four long term care and retirement homes in the city: Carlingview Manor, Elizabeth Bruyere, Barrhaven Retirement and Leisureworld Caregiving Centre Madonna.

There were reports out of the United States that indicated this year’s flu vaccine was not particularly effective against the current strain of the flu circulating through North America.  The American Centre for Disease Control indicated earlier this month that the vaccine was only effective against about half ot eh strain it had tested this year.

But Ottawa Public Health says the current vaccine will protect against the H1N1 and H3N2 influenza A viruses, the more aggressive strains, in addition to one or two influenza B strains.

The vaccine helps your body produce antibodies against the flu almost immediately but takes nearly two weeks to reach maximum protection.

The flu shot is widely available at doctors’ offices and at more than 170 pharmacies in Ottawa. There is a complete list of locations at