The second wave of swine flu has arrived in Ontario and public health officials say they want residents to get vaccinated.

"Influenza activity in the province continues to increase. We are seeing more people contact their health-care providers with influenza-like illness, and more people are being hospitalized with complications from the flu in Ontario," Dr. Arlene King, the province's chief medical officer of health, told a Friday news conference.

Twenty-eight people with laboratory-confirmed cases have died to date, which translates to a mortality rate of 2.2 deaths per million people, she said

Another 439 confirmed cases have hospitalized to date, or 3.4 hospitalizations per 100,000 people. There were 38 people in hospital as of Oct. 21, King said.

Based on the experience of the southern hemisphere, this is to be expected, she said.

The province's health units should receive their initial shipments of vaccine today, with a second shipment expected next week, King said.

Health units are to offer immunization clinics based on local needs and priorities, she said. King used the example of Toronto, which will start offering the vaccine to health-care workers on Monday, with public vaccination for high-risk groups to begin on Nov. 2.

In Sudbury, all priority groups will start receiving the vaccine on Monday, she said.

There will be a widespread advertising campaign on the vaccination effort beginning Saturday, she said.

"We're using the media to get the word out that the vaccine is safe and is the best way to protect ourselves, our families and everyone around us," King said.

The priority group includes:

  • people with chronic medical conditions under the age of 65
  • people in remote, isolated communities
  • healthy children from six months to five years old
  • care providers and household contacts of persons at high risk who cannot be immunized or may not respond to vaccines
  • health care workers
  • pregnant women

Women who are more than 20 weeks pregnant can use the adjuvanted vaccine, but should speak to their health-care provider first, King said.

An adjuvant is a product that allows the person being vaccinated to receive the full immune-boosting response while using less of the active ingredient, known as the antigen. It can provide better results.

Officials have said women who are less than 20 weeks pregnant may wish to wait for the unadjuvanted vaccine.

"There will be enough vaccine for everyone who needs and wants it, but people will have to be patient and let the priority groups to go to the front of the line to get immunized first," King said.