A strain of the flu virus, already capable of causing serious illness and death, may now have the power to cause birth defects.
Toronto city officials are getting the help of Batman and the Flash to help remind young parents to get their children vaccinated against the flu virus. “Parents need to spread the word,” Toronto health officer Dr. Eileen de Villa said in a statement. “There are widespread vaccine shortages and we need to boost supplies. If you think your child’s the last to get vaccinated, you’re wrong.”
The flu is most virulent in January and February. In Toronto, there have been 30 deaths and hundreds of cases of flu so far this season. These include six cases of “serious sepsis” and six cases of septic shock. Two other cases of severe respiratory distress known as ventricular septal defect (VSD) have also been reported.
The first vaccine for this season was released in late November, but there has been no increase in vaccinations. According to the Toronto Star, Toronto is now on track to have the worst flu season in 13 years.
If parents don’t get their children vaccinated before two weeks of age, those children may face serious adverse effects or death, the city’s health officials say.
“We have heard from the affected families, many of whom have shared similar stories with us of trying to treat their child with antibiotics and other alternative treatments,” says de Villa. “The severity of their medical complications can range from death to permanent disability.”
With very few supplies of the flulike flu vaccine on the market, city officials are increasing their efforts to encourage people to get vaccinated. Some health centers are hosting health fairs and clinics for kids and parents to meet pharmacists and nurses. Batman will lead children in a vaccination celebration at The Gardens, Hamilton and the Flash will be in Kensington Market.
However, even with some vaccines released by the public health agency, expectant moms are still being warned to be extra vigilant.