Albertans continue to line-up for the influenza vaccine which is available at special clinics, physicians’ offices and some pharmacist’s offices.
The vaccine is available free of charge to all Albertans six months of age or older.
More dates have recently been announced as well. Clinics run at Parkland Mall Nov. 16-18, 19th, and Nov. 21-25 and the 28th. Hours are from 1 to 8 p.m.
According to Alberta Health Services, seasonal influenza (commonly known as the ‘flu’) is a serious infection of the respiratory tract (nose, throat, lungs) caused by a virus that spreads easily from person to person by respiratory droplets through the air when a person coughs or sneezes.
It is also spread through contact with surfaces contaminated by the influenza virus (toys, eating utensils and unwashed hands). Seasonal influenza affects people across the world, can affect anybody in any age group and occurs in Canada anytime during the late fall/winter months (November to April).
The virus can also live on hands or other surfaces and be passed through touching. The virus can live on hard surfaces such as toys, eating utensils, door handles and telephones for up to 48 hours and soft surfaces such as cloths for eight to 10 hours.
It is then spread when a person touches these contaminated surfaces and then touches their own mouth, nose or eyes before washing their hands.
“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, every year,” says Dr. Gerry Predy, senior medical officer of health, Alberta Health Services.
“We call it an annual immunization for a reason: to maintain your immunity, and be protected for the season ahead, you need to get immunized every year.”
Seasonal influenza infection most commonly causes a sudden onset of high fever, cough (usually dry), headache, muscle and joint aches and pain, severe malaise (feeling unwell), sore throat and runny nose. Other symptoms may include fatigue and decreased appetite. Uncommon symptoms may include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
According to AHS, most people who get influenza recover within a week without requiring medical attention. Cough and fatigue can persist for several weeks, making it difficult to return to full activities.
Persons at higher risk of complications related to influenza are sometimes ill for a longer period of time, possibly developing complications and requiring hospitalization. About 2,000 to 8,000 Canadians can die from seasonal influenza and its complications each year depending on the severity of the season.
For more information, including complete immunization clinic schedules go online at www.albertahealthservices.ca or call Health Link Alberta toll-free at 1-866-408-LINK (5465).