Fewer Central Albertans got flu shot

Alberta Health Services Central Zone

Central Alberta was one of two health regions in the province to see a drop in the number of residents immunized during the 2016-17 flu season.

This season 100,961 people were immunized in Alberta Health Services Central Zone, a 4.6 per cent decrease from 2015-16 when 105,872 got the shot.

The AHS North Zone dropped to 91,469 compared to 99,860, a 8.4 per cent tumble.

Dr. Ifeoma Achebe, medical officer of health with AHS Central Zone, said the overall provincial immunization rate increased slightly to 1.3 per cent to 1,162,487 from 1,146,569.

“We’ll look at things that worked well and things that didn’t work well and how we can improve for the upcoming year,” Achebe said.

In Alberta 55 people with lab-confirmed influenza died this season, down from 62 last season. In Central Zone eight died compared to five the previous season.

She said Central Albertans who died were mostly older residents.

“The influenza virus this year hit the seniors, the elderly, the more severely than the young. And they were all mostly Influenza A. We didn’t have a lot Influenza B this year.”

Across the province 1,460 people were admitted to hospital, including 151 in Central Zone.

Achebe said there were 21 flu outbreaks in Central Zone, up from only six in 2015-16, and they included one outbreak in a hospital, 11 in long-term care and nine in supportive living facilities or lodges.

“This year was a bit worse than last year, but we know last year was a very mild season.”

She said even though Alberta’s immunization campaign ended March 31, the flu season likely won’t be over until the end of April and then there will be a more concise and complete report on the 2016-17 flu season.

So far the province has documented 4,068 lab-confirmed cases, including 592 in Central Zone.

Last season Alberta had 5,311 cases and 774 were in Central Zone.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

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