FLU SEASON - Mason Hettesheimer received his flu shot while his mom

Flu clinics are currently underway in Red Deer

  • Oct. 21, 2015 2:50 p.m.

Red Deerians now have the opportunity to protect themselves and others against influenza with the launch of Alberta’s annual influenza immunization program.

The program makes vaccine available free of charge to all Albertans six months of age and older at hundreds of Alberta Health Services (AHS) public influenza immunization clinics, as well as at pharmacist and physician offices around the province.

“Influenza arrives every fall and chances are you will be exposed,” said Dr. Digby Horne, medical officer of health for AHS Central Zone. “You may be healthy now but keep in mind – good health isn’t contagious. Influenza is. To protect your health, get immunized.”

Immunization is the most effective means of protecting against the strains of influenza virus expected to circulate this season. Because those strains change from season to season, Albertans are reminded they cannot rely on having been immunized in years past.

“It’s pretty simple – to be protected this season, you need to be immunized this season,” said Horne. “Without immunization, you’re at risk.”

That risk shouldn’t be underestimated. Last season, more than 1,870 Albertans were hospitalized due to influenza and, for 103 Albertans, it was fatal. Thousands more suffered from the illness and put those around them at risk of contracting influenza as well.

“Chances are your friends and family don’t want influenza any more than you do,” said Horne. “Don’t take that chance. Get immunized.”

According to AHS, influenza (flu) is a viral infection.

The flu causes a fever, body aches, a headache, a dry cough, and a sore or dry throat. The symptoms usually are the worst for the first three or four days. But it can take one to two weeks to get completely better.

It usually takes one to four days to get symptoms of the flu after you have been around someone who has the virus.

Most people get better without problems. But sometimes the flu can lead to a bacterial infection such as an ear infection, a sinus infection or bronchitis. In rare cases, the flu may cause a more serious problem such as pneumonia.

The vaccine is especially important for people who are at higher risk of problems from the flu, including adults age 65 and older; adults and children who have long-term health problems or an impaired immune system; children six to 59 months of age; women who will be pregnant during the flu season; children who are 24 months to 18 years old who use long-term Aspirin treatment; people who are obese with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more; people who live in nursing homes or long-term care centres and First Nations peoples.

The flu vaccine is also important for health care workers, anyone who lives or works with a person who is at higher risk of problems from the flu and people who provide essential community services.

For more information, including local clinic schedules, visit www.ahs.ca/influenza or call Health Link at 811.

– Fawcett

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