Vaccination program expanding Tuesday

Andrea Ansley doesn’t want her two young sons to suffer from the flu the way she did. “It was rotten. I spent the day in bed with a fever of 104. Cough. Hot. Cold. I just ached from my hair to my toe nails. It was quite awful,” said Ansley, her voice still hoarse from illness

Andrea Ansley doesn’t want her two young sons to suffer from the flu the way she did.

“It was rotten. I spent the day in bed with a fever of 104. Cough. Hot. Cold. I just ached from my hair to my toe nails. It was quite awful,” said Ansley, her voice still hoarse from illness.

That’s why her son, 21-month-old Chase, got his H1N1 vaccination on Friday at the Harvest Centre at Westerner Park where pregnant women and children aged six months to under five years were eligible for vaccination.

Chase’s three-year-old brother Cooper got his shot on Thursday. Andrea and her husband Gary Ansley, of the Sylvan Lake area, didn’t want to take both children to Thursday’s clinic because they were unsure of the lineup.

Gary Ansley said it was busier Thursday, but on Friday they were in and out in 20 minutes.

Tawnya McBride, of Penhold, also avoided the mass immunization clinics last week that had people waiting several hours in Red Deer.

“I haven’t been from line to line to line, from clinic to clinic. I thought, I’m not waiting in line for eight hours. If we’re going to get (the flu), we’re going to get it standing in lineups,” said McBride who came out to the Westerner with her son Link, who is almost a year old.

“I just made my decision this morning to come do this. I did a ton of research and I decided I would much rather get a vaccination than see him get sick or me get sick. I’ve had a lot of friends get sick. It hasn’t been pretty for them.”

About 35,000 doses of vaccine were given out in Alberta on Thursday.

On Friday, two more H1N1 deaths were confirmed in Alberta, pushing the number deaths from the pandemic flu to 20.

On Thursday, provincial authorities confirmed four people had died from the flu in recent days, including one person from Central Alberta.

Hospitalizations in Alberta due to the flu jumped from 439 on Thursday to 480 on Friday.

Gerhard Benadé, medical officer of health with the central zone of Alberta Health Services, said people going to the Red Deer hospital remains stable.

“Emergency room visits are fluctuating a little bit. It seems on average every day to be approximately 50 visits with flu-like illness,” Benadé said.

“Ultimately we expect things to peak and to trail off, but not yet. As the immunization program progresses and as people comply well with general infection information measures, than it becomes harder for the virus to spread.”

On Tuesday, Alberta Health Services will expand H1N1 immunization to further protect children.

Two caregivers for children under six months old will be eligible for the vaccine. Children that young cannot receive the vaccine so the best way to protect them is to immunize caregivers.

Children under the age of 10 with chronic health conditions will also be eligible. Information on the type of conditions that qualify will be released on Monday.

“The vaccine supply issue we are facing is forcing us to make some difficult decisions. For people who are waiting for their turn I want to reassure them we will move as quickly as possible to include them in the vaccine program,” said Dr. Andre Corriveau, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health at a news conference in Edmonton.

Alberta revamped its immunization program this past week due to a national shortage of vaccine.

About 237,000 more doses are expected to arrive in Alberta by the middle of next week.

Corriveau said close to six million doses of the antiviral Tamiflu to fight the duration of H1N1’s illness and complications are available to Albertans.

About 3,000 prescriptions a day for the drug are being given out across the province and “it’s paying dividends,” he said.

“We know for a fact that this virus is still very sensitive to Tamiflu as an antiviral drug and it will, if prescribed early, prevent complications.”

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

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