As the season progresses into a winter wonderland, flu clinics continue to offer free vaccinations to Albertans ages six months and up.
This year the vaccinations protect against the A/California (H1N1), A/Victoria and B/Wisconsin strains. However, registered nurse Erin Hunter says there is some cross-protection against other strains.
Dr. Ifeoma Achebe, medical officer of health with Alberta Health Services central zone, says vaccines work to offer some protection from the previous years’ strains.
“It varies every season. That’s why we encourage people to come out,” said Achebe. “It’s (vaccine shots) very important. We all know this time of year, before winter, influenza comes.”
The A/Victoria and B/Wisconsin strains are new this year so people don’t have a previous immunity to the viruses.
“Influenza A belongs to a different family and influenza B belongs to a different family,” said Achebe. “They’re all influenza viruses and they can all cause illness.”
Achebe says the flu can be even more dangerous to the elderly and by getting vaccinated people aren’t only protecting themselves they’re protecting those around them. “I don’t see any reason why people shouldn’t take advantage of this,” said Achebe.
For those who decide not to get the free shot she recommends staying home when sick, even with just a cough, washing hands frequently and sanitizing and coughing into a sleeve, rather than into a hand or elsewhere.
Clinics are offering the traditional injection vaccination and nasal spray vaccinations for youths.
Side effects of the vaccination can include mild soreness, fever and chills, redness, body aches, runny nose and nasal congestion.