H1N1 still a risk

Beware — the H1N1 virus is still out there, says a medical officer of health for the Central Zone of Alberta Health Services.

Beware — the H1N1 virus is still out there, says a medical officer of health for the Central Zone of Alberta Health Services.

“There’s still a few cases here and there of H1N1 influenza in the community. So it hasn’t entirely gone away,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Tuesday.

As of Feb. 20, about 100,000 Central Albertans had been immunized against the pandemic flu, and public clinics continue to operate by appointment only.

As of last Friday, hospitalized cases of H1N1 totalled 1,276 in Alberta, including 147 in Central Alberta.

A total of 70 Albertans have died.

In the first month of the immunization campaign last fall, about one million Albertans were vaccinated against the H1N1 pandemic influenza virus.

Hinshaw said it’s difficult to predict when the third wave of the influenza will strike. But the more people vaccinated, the fewer will get sick.

“Particularly for high-risk groups, such as pregnant women and individuals with chronic medical conditions, they would still be encouraged to get the vaccine to make sure they are protected.

“H1N1 continues to circulate in other parts of the world and we do recommend that travellers are vaccinated.”

This week, immunization is available by appointment only at Red Deer Johnstone Crossing Community Health Centre, 300 Jordan Parkway, on Friday from 1 to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon.

Immunization will continue throughout the month and Alberta Health Services will soon decide whether clinics will be held in April.

“We’ll make decisions based on what we see happen both locally and internationally,” Hinshaw said.

For more clinic locations and dates in Central Alberta, go online to www.albertahealthservices.ca or call HEALTHLink Alberta toll free at 1-866-408-5465.

People can also check with their local doctor or pharmacist to find out if they have the vaccine.

The vaccine is free.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com