HSE warns that up to four people have died from swine flu

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There have been 1,884 lab-confirmed cases of the flu in this region, making up 40 per cent of the total 4,634 cases across Alberta. A total of 12 children had died from the flu at the end of week 51 past year. "Another thing is the vaccine might be a lot more effective this year than last year", Hu said.

Even though the flu season is underway, there are still potentially several months of the season left, and it's not too late to get a flu shot.

"We recommend the flu shot because the virus is dead in the shot; the virus is still living in the nasal spray", said Thompson.

A limited supply of free influenza vaccine will be available for this event on a first-come, first-served basis.

"At this point, most flu activity has been driven by illness in school-aged children, and hospitalization rates among children younger than 5 years old (7.7 per 100,000) are now the highest among all age groups". The report consists of laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza that are defined by molecular virus testing and positive virus culture test results.

That virus is similar to the one that caused the flu pandemic in 2009, said Halperin, but hasn't been predominant since then - meaning that many people likely don't have immunity to it anymore.

Developing on the health beat: The flu is ramping up in MI.

But in Nova Scotia, for instance, less than 50 per cent of people have received the flu vaccine.

The HSE has warned that the H1N1 flu strain - also known as swine flu - could potentially become a serious health issue. Most are elderly with weakened immune systems.

They say now is a good time to get the vaccine, before a wave of sickness hits the area.

Besides the loss of life and the associated grief-which is incalculable-flu outbreaks have a real economic impact as well.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.

If you have a flu-like sickness, try to stay at home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.