Alberta’s annual influenza campaign kicks off October 21.
Health officials are asking Albertans to get immunized to prevent the spread of flu this season. Influenza immunization isn’t just for young children, the elderly and people with underlying health conditions. All Albertans should be immunized to reduce their chances of getting the flu and passing it on to others.
“The influenza vaccine isn’t just about keeping you healthy – it’s about keeping the people around you healthy too. This vaccine reduces the spread of this illness and deaths in our province. It also helps reduce pressure on our emergency departments and on our health care system as a whole, says Health Minister Fred Horne.
The influenza vaccine is free of charge to all Albertans six months of age and older. The vaccine is available at public immunization clinics, as well at some pharmacies and physician offices. Once again this year, a nasal spray will be available for children two to 17 years of age.
“Some people are skeptical of the influenza vaccine. What I say to those people is it can help reduce your chances of getting infected with influenza by up to 70 per cent. The vaccine is extremely important for people who want to feel better during the influenza season, whether you’re at work, at home with your family or on holiday,” says Dr. James Talbot, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health.
Nearly 920,000 Albertans were immunized during last year’s influenza season. That’s an increase of nearly 46,000 from the previous year. About 60 per cent of seniors and 30 per cent of children between six-23 months were immunized last year.
“Although influenza season has not yet started, we have already confirmed a few sporadic cases in Alberta this fall. These cases underscore the importance of getting immunized early in the season, to protect against viruses that will continue to circulate in the coming months. Remember: we call it an annual immunization for a reason – to be protected against the current circulating influenza strains, you need to be immunized every year,” says Dr. Gerry Predy, senior medical officer of health at Alberta Health Services.
Another simple and effective way to stay healthy and prevent the spread of influenza is through proper hand washing. About 80-per-cent of common infections are spread by our hands. In Alberta, the average cost of treating a hospitalized person with influenza is $17,000.
Influenza, commonly called the flu, is a respiratory disease that affects the nose, throat and lungs. It is caused by a virus that is easily passed from person to person.
Flu shots are scheduled at the Kinsmen Community Centre for Oct. 23, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Nov. 21 12:00 to 6:00 p.m.