Several opportunities for local residents to still get the flu shot are planned over the next few weeks.
Although the wind-up of the influenza season is typically around the end of March, it’s not too late to get the annual shot, officials say.
Pre-booked appointments are available at the Red Deer Bremner Avenue Community Health Centre on March 15th from 8:30 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4 p.m. Clinics run those same hours on March 17th and March 23rd as well.
Pre-booked appointments are also available at the Red Deer Johnstone Crossing Community Health Centre on March 16th from 8:30 a.m. to noon. They are also available on March 22nd from 8:30 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m., and during those same hours on March 27th as well. Folks can call 403-356-6429 to make an appointment.
To date, there have been seven deaths from influenza in the Central Zone, said Dr. Ifeoma Achebe, zone medical officer of health. There have been 47 deaths province-wide this past season.
There have also been 497 lab confirmed cases of influenza in the Central Zone as well, said Achebe, adding that it’s still prudent for local residents to get immunized even though the end of the season is in sight. And of course, those lab confirmed cases don’t include all the people who simply stay at home to recover.
Achebe said it’s also better to compare year to year numbers at the end of the influenza season.
“We can do a better comparison by the end of April.”
For most, influenza will cause a few days of fever, cough and generally feeling unwell. But for some, this contagious respiratory disease can lead to severe complications requiring hospitalization or even death, officials add.
As mentioned, officials also say the best time to get vaccinated is from October through to December, but it is never too late.
According to Alberta Health, influenza spreads rapidly – the virus passes from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
The virus can live on hands and is then passed to surfaces through touching. The virus can live on hard surfaces such as door handles, telephones, light switches, computer keyboards, countertops for up to 48 hours, and on soft surfaces like clothing for eight to 10 hours.
Infection can also happen when people touch any surface contaminated with the virus and then touch their own mouth, nose or eyes before washing their hands. People usually develop symptoms of influenza within four days after becoming infected.
Symptoms include fever that starts suddenly, a dry cough that can last for weeks, headache, an aching body especially in the lower back and legs and feeling very weak and tired. Other symptoms can include chills, loss of appetite, sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose.
For more information, contact Health Link at 811 or visit www.health.alberta.ca.