Central Albertans urged to get flu shot

  • Oct. 23, 2013 4:20 p.m.

Health officials are asking Albertans to get immunized to prevent the spread of flu this season.

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,” said Fred Horne, health minister.

The 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,” said 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% of seniors and 30% of children between six – 23 months were immunized last year.

Another simple and effective way to stay healthy and prevent the spread of influenza is through proper hand washing.

About 80% of common infections are spread by hands. In Alberta, the average cost of treating a hospitalized person with influenza is $17,000.

Influenza is an infection of the respiratory tract (nose, throat, lungs) that is caused by a virus.

It’s spread through the air. The virus gets into the air when someone with the disease coughs, sneezes or even talks. People who breathe in the virus can become sick. It can also be spread by touching objects that have been coughed or sneezed upon by someone with the virus.

While most people who become sick with influenza will get better, influenza causes about 20,000 hospitalizations and about 4,000 deaths in Canada each year.

Children six to 59 months of age, pregnant women, those 65 years of age and over and people with chronic health conditions are at higher risk of developing complications from influenza. Complications can include pneumonia (bacterial or viral), ear and sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.

Clinic dates in Red Deer run Oct. 21-22 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Oct. 23 from 12:30 to 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 26 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on a drop-in basis at the Harvest Centre.

Additional clinics will be held at the Red Deer Curling Centre on Oct. 29-30 and Nov. 28 from 12:30 to 7:30 p.m. on a drop-in basis as well. They will also be held Nov. 8, 13-14 and 21 from 12:30 to 7:30 p.m. on a drop-in basis at the Red Deer iHotel as well.