Absenteeism spikes in Central Alberta schools

H1N1 vaccine was made available on Monday in Red Deer just as student absenteeism spiked.

The crowd inside the Harvest Centre was easily as big as the one waiting outside.

H1N1 vaccine was made available on Monday in Red Deer just as student absenteeism spiked.

“Coming back from the weekend we’ve seen quite a jump as of today. Approximately half our schools have exceeded 10 per cent absenteeism, probably approaching 20 per cent in some of the schools,” said Bruce Buruma, director of community relations with Red Deer Public Schools.

Students are reporting flu-like illnesses and likely a good portion of them have contracted the H1N1 virus. It is circulating across Alberta and is expected to be the most prevalent virus affecting people this year.

Schools with Red Deer Catholic School Division have also reported more students absent.

“At this point, even though it is fluctuating by the hour, all of our schools are over 10 per cent except for Rocky Mountain House,” said Jeanne Davis, Red Deer Catholic communications director.

Buruma said rumours are circulating that schools are going to be closing and that is not true. According to the Health Agency of Canada, closing schools is not warranted and any such decision would be made in consultation with Alberta Health Services.

Gerhard Benadé, medical officer of health with the central zone of Alberta Health Services, said 30 to 40 schools out of about 350 in Central Alberta have reported significant absenteeism.

“In schools, there seems to be more spread because of how kids interact, being in the same space, and they may bring it home and expose families. Getting the vaccine now is pretty good timing,” said Benadé who was at the flu vaccine clinic at the Westerner’s Harvest Centre on Monday where upwards of 600 people were in line for vaccinations at any given time and waited up to four hours.

Both the seasonal influenza vaccine and the H1N1 vaccine were available and can be administered at the same time.

Alberta has so far received 400,000 doses of the H1N1 vaccine with more to come and Benadé said Alberta Health Services believes it has an adequate amount to keep vaccinating people.

“Nobody will be turned away. We specifically encourage people with underlying medical conditions to get the vaccine sooner.”

To address concerns some people have about the vaccine’s safety, Benadé rolled up his sleeve and received his injection at a press conference on Monday.

He said the preservatives used in the vaccine have been used for a long time and have a good safety record. The vaccine also does not contain a live virus and only enough of the virus to activate people’s immune system so they can develop antibodies.

“People should not be concerned about getting the pandemic flu at least not from the vaccine.”

The next vaccination clinic will be held in Red Deer on Thursday at CrossRoads Church, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For the locations and dates of other clinics in the city and around Central Alberta call 1-866-408-5465 or go to www.albertahealthservices.ca


• Click here to visit the Advocate’s new web page dedicated to H1N1 news and information

Just Posted

City Hall Park construction begins next week

Construction to update Red Deer’s City Hall Park is set to begin… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Jazz at the Lake begins

The 16 annual event began Friday and runs until Sunday in Sylvan Lake

Photos: Lunchtime tunes on Alexander Way

Final concert of the summer

Clearwater regional firefighters in B.C.

Crew operating west of Prince George

PHOTOS: Samson Cree Nation Pow Wow

The Samson Cree Nation hosted its annual Pow Wow, celebrating youth last weekend

WATCH: Feasting at Red Deer Ribfest this weekend

Ribfest runs until Sunday at Rotary Recreation Park

Street Tales: Life is filled with unlearned lessons

There are days that I almost believe evolutionists in that we are… Continue reading

Canadians believe in immigration but concerned about asylum seekers: study

OTTAWA — Canadians are generally supportive of current immigration levels, a survey… Continue reading

Quebec announces plan to compensate taxi drivers after Uber’s arrival

MONTREAL — The Quebec government has outlined how it intends to compensate… Continue reading

Hospitals to see ‘delays’ in care after losing Saudi students, health group says

OTTAWA — The loss of Saudi Arabian resident physicians in Canada’s hospitals… Continue reading

PHOTOS: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

The rest of the province also dealing with thick haze as smoky skies continue

Death Valley worker has seen highest, lowest temperatures

LAS VEGAS — Thousands of tourists descend on Death Valley each summer… Continue reading

Banff’s Sunshine ski resort upset with proposed guidelines from Parks Canada

BANFF, Alta. — An internationally known ski resort in Banff National Park… Continue reading

Folk singer Ian Tyson cancels show due to ‘serious medical situation’

TORONTO — Canadian folk singer-songwriter Ian Tyson has cancelled his appearance at… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month