FREDERICTON (GNB) – The acting chief medical officer of health is reminding people that a free protective flu shot is a great way to reduce their risks of infection, as influenza circulates through the province.

Dr. Yves Léger said a new one-week record was set between Nov. 27 and Dec. 3, with 836 lab-confirmed cases of influenza.

There were also 115 influenza-related hospitalizations that week, bringing the total number for this flu season to 350. This is the highest number of influenza hospitalizations for a one-week period since the government began reporting on them.

Léger said most of these hospitalizations involve people 65 and over, while about 17 per cent involved people aged 19 and under.

The total number of positive influenza detections this flu season is 1,811.

Léger said only 196,976 influenza vaccines had been administered in New Brunswick as of Dec. 12, down from 219,475 over the same period last year.

“We know the influenza vaccine is safe, and that it can help reduce the number of cases – and particularly the number of severe cases – of influenza we will see over the flu season,” said Léger. “With the increased activity we are seeing now, it is important for all New Brunswickers aged six months or older to consider rolling up their sleeve for this protective shot, and to consider adopting the public health measures we know will reduce our risks of contracting respiratory illnesses.”

People who are sick can help protect others and reduce the spread by staying home until they feel better, and by washing their hands after they cough and sneeze, especially before they touch common surfaces. People can also wear a mask if they are going to crowded public places, consider their activities carefully, and think about limiting unnecessary contacts, he said.

Léger said these measures will help people protect themselves and their loved ones, as well as reduce the strain these elevated levels of sickness are placing on the province’s hospital system.

More information about the latest influenza numbers is available online.