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Hundreds line up for final flu shots

About 2,300 people were vaccinated at Johnstone Crossing Community Health Centre during the final two days of the local seasonal immunization campaign.

Lineups wound around the parking lot both mornings before the clinic opened, but Friday appeared busier as people hurried to get the last of the flu vaccine.

As of 4 p.m. on Saturday, all immunization clinics in Alberta Health Services Central Zone were closed and will not be reopening this season.

Some physicians and pharmacies may have vaccine available, but that supply is expected to run out too.

Warren and Vivian Chimilar, both 62, of Red Deer, said they didn’t know anyone who had come down with the flu so far this season, but were intending to get the shot because of the dominate H1N1 strain.

“We just waited and then we heard there might be none left so we thought we better get in today and get it done today,” Vivian Chimilar said on Friday after leaving the clinic.

The last time they were vaccinated for the flu was in 2009 for the H1N1 pandemic.

They arrived at 8:45 a.m. and were rolling up their sleeves around 10 a.m. Immunization tickets were handed out so people could return at a later time instead of waiting in line.

Louise Labrie, 40, of Red Deer, who had never been immunized for the seasonal flu, also came out to the clinic on Friday on the advice of her doctor.

“I just had twins so that’s the only reason why I’m doing it,” Labrie said.

She arrived shortly after 9 a.m., left, and came back around 11 a.m. to get her shot.

Labrie also didn’t know anyone who had caught the flu, but knew of lots of people who were vaccinated.

Limited number of doses of vaccine are now being reserved for children who have had their first of two doses.

Children under nine who are receiving seasonal influenza vaccine for the first time require two doses.

Vaccine has also been reserved to address specific outbreaks in health care centres and continuing care sites.

Dr. Digby Horne, a medical officer of health for AHS Central Zone, said one outbreak was reported at Rimbey Hospital and Care Centre about two weeks ago and impacted a few people.

As of Friday, Central Zone has seen 258 lab-confirmed influenza cases, 28 hospitalizations including five in ICU. There have been no deaths for seasonal flu in Central Zone.

Across the province there have been eight deaths, 1,708 cases, and 390 hospitalizations including 91 in ICU.

He said this season H1N1 is causing 96 per cent of all influenza infections which is affecting more young adults and those in middle age.

Over 1.2 million people have been immunized across the province. As of last Thursday, 81,047 people were immunized in Central Zone.

Albertans are encouraged to be vigilant in preventing the spread of the disease by covering their nose and mouth when they cough, washing their hands regularly, keeping their hands away from their eyes, nose and mouth, and staying home if they are sick.

Horne said people can be contagious for about a day before they develop symptoms and are no longer contagious after five days from the onset of symptoms.

“We do know influenza can cause complications with people with no underlying risk factors so it is important to monitor themselves.”



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