The sudden death over the weekend of an otherwise healthy teenage boy after he contracted the swine flu prompted Canadian officials Tuesday to speed up A(H1N1) immunizations.
"The sad news of this boy's death is a reminder that while most flu illness is mild, severe illness and death is a part of the picture of this pandemic," Toronto Public Health officer David McKeown told a press conference.
Advertisement"And it's for this reason that immunization is recommended for everyone," he said.
Evan Frustaglio, 13, fell ill with a fever and nausea on Saturday during a hockey tournament and was taken to a walk-in clinic the next day to see a doctor.
He was sent home with Tylenol and over-the-counter medication for nausea after being misdiagnosed with a case of milder seasonal influenza. He later died at home.
"We're in pretty big shock here losing a 13-year-old boy as healthy as can be and within 48 hours went from having a small symptoms of the flu ... to dying in our home," his father Paul Frustaglio told public broadcaster CBC.
Monday, Canada's largest-ever vaccination program got underway nationwide to combat the spread of the potentially deadly A(H1N1) virus.
Aboriginals, youths and medical staff -- groups believed to be most at risk of serious infection -- were the first to receive swine flu shots.
McKeown said Toronto, Canada's largest metropolis, was scheduled to open up specialized vaccination clinics to the general public on November 2, but has instead pushed up general access to the clinics to Thursday.
"Because of the increasing circulation of the H1N1 virus, today I'm announcing we've decided to move forward the start dates for our public clinics," he said.
"The second wave of H1N1 flu is most definitely upon us," commented Ontario Chief Medical Health Officer Arlene King. "Influenza activity is up quite significantly."
Elsewhere in the country, long lines formed outside medical clinics as thousands sought to be the first to get flu shots.
The swine flu has so far contributed to at least 88 deaths in Canada, more than 1,500 hospitalizations and close to 300 critical care ward admissions, according to Health Canada.
A preteen girl who died in an Ottawa hospital on Saturday is believed to be the first Canadian fatality in the second wave of the pandemic now sweeping the country.
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