It has been anything but a typical flu season in Alberta.
More Albertans than any previous season have received a dose of the influenza vaccine and so far, with about a month to go, there have not been any laboratory-confirmed cases of the flu.
Many experts contribute this drastic dip to people being more cautious with handwashing and mask-wearing, as well as less time around others because of the COVID-19 health measures.
“The low case count for influenza can be attributed to multiple factors, including the impact of COVID-19 restrictions and public health guidelines currently in place that encourage enhanced respiratory etiquette, hand hygiene, physical distancing and staying home when sick,” Alberta Health Services said in an email statement.
“These measures continue to be imperative to reduce spread of COVID-19 and provide additional cross-protection against influenza as well.”
According to data from AHS, more than 1.6 million Albertans have received a dose of the influenza vaccine this season.
That data holds true in central Alberta as well. Despite more than 157,948 flu vaccines administered, there haven’t been any confirmed cases of the flu.
In last year’s flu season alone, between August 25 and May 2, there were 8,470 confirmed influenza cases in the province with 1.4 million doses administered.
In central Alberta, with 126,288 doses administered, there were 1,103 lab-confirmed cases. In the last five flu seasons across central Alberta, the lowest number of laboratory-confirmed cases in a single season was 525 in 2015-16.
“The year-to-date influenza report continues to be very 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,” AHS said.
According to AHS, Alberta Precision Laboratories have tested 107,820 respiratory swabs for influenza, from Aug. 23, 2020 to Mar. 20, 2021. For the same time period in the 2019-2020 flu season, about 39,793 swabs were performed.
The flu season typically starts in September and ends in early May.