More flu clinics set to round out the year

  • Dec. 14, 2011 4:24 p.m.

Alberta Health Services has set up several more influenza immunization clinics as the year comes to a close.

A clinic is planned for Dec. 30 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Johnstone Crossing Community Health Centre. For more information, call 403-356-6333. Several more are planned for the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre – Dec. 16, Dec. 18 and Dec. 21-22 (12:30 to 7:30 p.m.) Another is slated for Dec. 29 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

All Albertans, six months of age and older, are eligible to receive immunization, free of charge.

Officials are also remind folks of the importance of hand-washing in keeping the illness at bay. Alcohol-based hand rub or sanitizers can also be helpful in warding off some – but not all – germs.

It’s also important to stay home if you are sick. Those with symptoms including fever, cough, diarrhea and/or vomiting should stay home from work, school, daycare or any social function.

It’s also vital that sick people steer clear of visiting family, friends or loved ones in hospitals, care facilities or seniors’ lodges.

Also, if you are sick, do not prepare food. Keep household surfaces clean using a household disinfectant.

A recent increase in the number of cases of Norovirus across the Central Zone has also prompted Alberta Health Services to remind area residents of precautions to reduce the spread of illness. Norovirus is a viral infection that occurs throughout the year, most commonly in the winter.

Symptoms almost always include vomiting and/or diarrhea and may include muscle aches and low-grade fever. Although symptoms usually last only 48 to 72 hours, and in most cases require no special treatment.

Still, health officials say virus can be debilitating for the very young, the very old, and those with weakened immune systems. Norovirus can spread quickly, most often through close contact with an infected individual or by eating food prepared by someone who is ill with the infection.

Officials recommend always washing your hands after using the bathroom, after providing care to an ill person, after handling soiled laundry and before handling food. Individuals experiencing vomiting and/or diarrhea should not attend schools or childcare facilities, attend work, visit seniors’ residences, continuing care facilities or hospitals or prepare food for others.

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).

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.

The vaccine is not given to people who have a history of severe allergic reaction to influenza vaccine or any of its components.

According to AHS, the most common complication from seasonal influenza illness is bacterial pneumonia. Other complications may include worsening of existing health conditions such as heart, lung and kidney disease, diabetes and cancer.

For more information, go online at www.albertahealthservices.ca or call Health Link Alberta toll-free at 1-866-408-LINK (5465).

-Weber

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