Two-for-one deal

Both seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccine will be available at public immunization clinics in Alberta starting on Monday.

Both seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccine will be available at public immunization clinics in Alberta starting on Monday.

“The plan is to offer both, with the proviso if things really get busy and lineups get bad, we might have to defer the seasonal. But we don’t anticipate having to do that given what we’re seeing with the numbers coming through the clinics,” said Dr. Gerry Predy, Alberta Health Services’ senior medical officer of health, on Thursday.

Even though attention has been on the H1N1 pandemic virus, the seasonal flu infection is also likely closer to the spring.

So far, close to 850,000 Albertans have been vaccinated for H1N1, with about 50,000 people coming out daily to public clinics this week. On Wednesday, 3,647 Central Albertans were vaccinated.

Dr. André Corriveau, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said 50,000 is a manageable number and the hope is to immunize at least 70 per cent of Alberta’s 3.6 million population to reduce the impact of the third wave.

“If we don’t get our numbers up significantly before Christmas, (the third wave) could come fairly early after the Christmas period,” Corriveau said.

“It’s a partnership we have with the people of Alberta, in a sense. Everyone has to play their part. We have to offer the vaccine in convenient settings but people have to respond and come and get it, too.”

Even as the second wave wanes, health officials warn the virus will continue to circulate.

And mutations will begin to emerge, Corriveau said.

“Over time there will be mutant strains that will spread easily and can become dominate. Right now, we have a very well-matched vaccine that would be expected to provide protection, not just against the current strain, but any drift strain that might emerge.”

Predy said with Christmas approaching, now is the time to get vaccinated.

“Your risk is there, especially during the holiday season when people are travelling more, visiting more, more close contact. We’re encouraging everyone to come out before the holiday season and get the vaccine.”

The next Red Deer clinics will be held:

• Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Kentwood Alliance Church, 4 Kennedy Drive

• Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at First Christian Reform Church, 16 McVicar St.

• Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Kentwood Alliance Church.

• Friday, Dec. 4, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Westerner Park Salon A and B, 4847A 19th St.

For more clinic locations and dates in Central Alberta, go online to www.albertahealthservices.ca

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com