As flu season quickly approaches, Albertans can fight the seasonal illness by receiving the Influenza Immunization beginning the week of Oct. 21.
Influenza is preventable; however, 1,968 persons were admitted to the hospital, 228 of which required intensive care, with 52 deaths in Alberta between 2018 and 2019.
“It is difficult to predict this flu season until it arrives. Severity depends on the circulating strains and when they arrive in Canada,” said the Communications Advisor for Alberta Health Michael Francoeur.
Although it can be challenging to predict how severe Influenza will be each year, the elderly, the very young, pregnant women, and people living with chronic or compromising immune conditions are the most vulnerable to Influenza.
Albertans six months and up can receive the Influenza Immunization at Public Health Clinics, while Albertan’s five years of age and older can receive the vaccine at pharmacies.
If a child is less than nine years of age and is receiving the vaccine for the first time, they required two doses given four weeks apart.
Although the Influenza Immunization protects Albertans, individuals can help to limit their risk of exposure to themselves and others through general good health practices.
“Always cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when sneezing or coughing. If you don’t have a tissue always cough or sneeze into your arm, not into your hands,” Francoeur said.
He added, “Stay home when sick. If you have symptoms of illness, including fever, cough, headache, and extreme tiredness, stay home from work, daycare, or any social function.
“Please also refrain from visiting family, friends, or loved ones in hospitals, care facilities, or seniors’ lodges until you have fully recovered from any illness.”
To avoid catching Influenza, it is important to also wash hands with soap and warm water frequently, after coughing, sneezing, using tissues or the washroom, and before eating or preparing foods, Francoeur added.
Although Albertans can receive the Influenza Immunization until the Spring of 2020, Albertans are encouraged to get vaccinated earlier rather than later.
“When you chose to get the influenza vaccine you are also protecting other people around you that either don’t get immunized or if they have been immunized, they don’t respond as well, maybe an elderly person or a child. Especially those who are two years of age or younger are at the greatest risk of complications from influenza than older children are,” said Medical Officer of Health Dr. Judy MacDonald.
She added, “Influenza comes around every year, and it’s a serious disease that can sometimes result in hospitalization. Every year we have deaths from influenza.”
On Oct. 1, Alberta Health Services will have schedules for immunization clinics available at www.ahs.ca/influenza.