With a decline in flu-related doctor’s visits and an easing of pressure at B.C. Children’s Hospital, the second wave of British Columbia’s H1N1 outbreak may have now peaked, the province’s health officer said yesterday.

“As of last Friday we had 42 confirmed or suspected H1N1 patients on ventilators, which is down slightly from the week before,” said Dr. Perry Kendall.

“I’d still like to stress there is a potential, if you ignore the opportunity to get vaccinated, for us to see as many serious cases and deaths on the backside of the wave as we did on the front,” he said.

“I’m not about to predict a third wave, but it is preventable. The more people who get immunized against H1N1 flu virus, the lower the number of people who may get sick.”

Kendall said flu-related visits in some emergency rooms up North continue to rise, and the region may be a week behind the rest of the province in their H1N1 experience.

Yesterday, the province-wide vaccination campaign expanded to include all children and teenagers, people over 65 with chronic health issues, first responders, and all health-care workers.