Alberta’s annual influenza immunization program will kick off Oct. 15 and Albertans are encouraged to take advantage of the program once again.
“Fall means the start of flu season,” said Minister of Health Fred Horne. “Getting the flu shot is a no-cost, safe and highly effective way to prevent illness and stay healthy this year. I hope all Albertans will take the time to protect themselves and their families by getting immunized.”
Similar to last year, the influenza vaccine will be offered free of charge to all Albertans six months of age and older. The vaccine will be available through public immunization clinics, as well as through some pharmacists and physician offices. A nasal spray vaccine (FluMist) will also be available for the first time this year, targeted towards eligible children between two and 17 years of age.
“As the single most effective means of protecting oneself from influenza infection and illness, annual immunization is an important part of every Albertans’ fall routine,” said Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. James Talbot. “We call it an annual immunization for a reason: the virus is continually changing, and to maintain your immunity and be protected for the season ahead, you need to be immunized every year.”
While immunization is recommended for all Albertans, individuals at high risk for severe complications related to influenza (including children between the ages of six and 23 months, anyone over 65 years of age, pregnant women, and individuals with chronic medical conditions, including severe obesity), are encouraged to be immunized as soon as possible.
“Health care workers are also a very important group to be immunized especially those of us who are in regular contact with patients,” said Dr. Talbot.
In addition to finding clinic schedules through Health Link, and the Alberta Health Services (AHS) web site, this year Albertans can also find influenza info on-the-go, using the mobile-optimized clinic finder tool. An influenza category will also be added to AHS’ popular App in mid-October. Albertans will also have opportunity to connect with Dr. Gerry Predy, Alberta Health Services senior medical officer of Health, through his weekly Influenza blog, launching the week of Oct. 15th.
“Albertans want to know where, when, and most importantly, why they can and should get immunized,” said Dr. Predy. “By providing more ways to find this information, we are responding to that demand, and in doing so, making it that much easier for all Albertans to get immunized this year, and every year.”
To learn more about influenza illness, immunization and this year’s program, visit www.albertahealthservices.ca/influenza.asp.