Albertans are flocking to get their flu shot in 2020.
Alberta is yet to detect a case of seasonal influenza, through the first month of the 2020-21 flu season. At this time last year, the province already had 464 cases.
According to data collected by Alberta Health Services, since Sept. 27, more than 1.33 million doses of the influenza vaccine have already been distributed. That’s closing in on the total from the 2019 flu season when 1.43 million were administered between Aug. 25 and May 2, 2020.
The Central zone is also closing in on the 2019 season. As of Nov. 28, the region has already administered 122,314 doses of the flu vaccine, compared to 126,288 last season.
“This latest report is encouraging, and suggests that Albertans are understanding the importance of influenza immunization this season, to reduce further illness in our communities as Alberta continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said AHS Central zone in a statement.
Owner of Westpark I.D.A. in Red Deer, Francis Miguel, said that lines up with what he’s seen at his clinic since the vaccine was released in September.
“From the first time it was rolled out, until probably two or three weeks after, that’s the busiest point. It has died down a little bit,” Miguel said, adding they have plenty of doses left of the vaccine.
He noted that in December he expects a dip in appointments, but in January things will pick up again.
“We are expecting a little bit of a second wave of the flu sometime in January– to have more demand for (the vaccine),” he said.
On Oct. 29, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said in a little more than a week almost 600,000 Albertans had already been immunized. At that time, it was an increase of more than 50,000 doses over the same week in 2019.
Late last month, Hinshaw said the province had administered more than 228,000 more doses of the vaccine compared to the 2019 season.
“It is a reminder that there is hope, that our actions can help protect each other from a wide range of illnesses,” she said.
For the 2020-21 flu season, Alberta ordered 1.96 million doses of the influenza vaccine – enough to immunize 45 per cent of the population.
Last year, Alberta’s immunization rate was 33 per cent, an increase from 30 per cent in 2018-19.