Flu clinics wrapping up

An official with Alberta Health Services is encouraging more Albertans to receive the influenza vaccination as the immunization clinic is set to wrap up this weekend in Red Deer.

An official with Alberta Health Services is encouraging more Albertans to receive the influenza vaccination as the immunization clinic is set to wrap up this weekend in Red Deer.

Dr. Digby Horne, one of the three medical officers of health for Central Zone of AHS, said on Tuesday that nearly 46,000 Central Albertans were immunized against the flu between Oct. 3 and Nov. 13.

More than 400,000 (11 per cent) people have been immunized across Alberta in the same time.

These figures include individuals at long-term care facilities and those who went to public clinics.

But it does not take into consideration people who received the vaccination from a physician or pharmacist.

Horne said the goal is to get one-third of Albertans immunized, which adds up to about 130,000 Central Albertans.

“This year we haven’t had our outbreaks yet. They could be coming any time from now until the end of April,” Horne said.

“It’s probably not on the minds of people as much this year, but there is always the potential for influenza to make people ill and, in some cases, kill them. So it still makes sense to get immunized.”

The single influenza shot, which is available for free to all Albertans six months of age and older, will protect against H1N1 and the seasonal strains influenza B and H3N2 that are expected to circulate this year, Horne added.

The vaccination can help prevent illnesses that may lead to people staying home sick or being hospitalized and can also prevent mortality in high-risk cases such as the elderly and people with chronic diseases.

Horne said the dose is about 60 per cent effective in preventing death in the elderly.

The final date for the immunization clinic in Red Deer at the former Sears location at Parkland Mall is on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Individuals can still get the shot after the clinic closes by contacting public health sites such as Johnstone Crossing or by going to their physician or pharmacist.

For more information about locations and hours of other clinics running in Central Alberta, go to www.albertahealthservices.ca or call HEALTHLink Alberta toll free at 1-866-408-5465.

ptrotter@bprda.wpengine.com