Alberta’s annual influenza campaign kicks off on Monday and health officials are encouraging Albertans to get immunized to prevent the spread of the flu this season.
During the 2012-13 campaign, nearly 920,000 Albertans were immunized.
In Alberta Health Services Central Zone, 86,453 doses were administered, up from 85,877 doses in 2011-12.
Influenza, commonly called the flu, is a respiratory disease that affects the nose, throat and lungs.
It is caused by a virus that is easily passed from person to person.
Influenza lowers the body’s ability to fight other infections and can lead to bacterial infections, such as pneumonia, and even death, especially in the elderly and people with chronic medical conditions.
Alberta Health Services says those at risk for serious health problems from influenza are children younger than two and adults 65 and older; people with weakened immune systems; those with chronic illnesses such as heart, lung or kidney disease, diabetes and cancer; and severely overweight individuals. Immunization is also important for people who could spread the virus to those who are at high risk of influenza-related complications.
The vaccine is free to all Albertans six months of age and older, and is available at public immunization clinics, as well at some pharmacies and physician offices. Once again this year, a nasal spray will be available for children ages two to 17.
Clinics in Central Alberta will be held at the following locations next week:
• Red Deer’s Westerner Park in the Harvest Centre, 4847A 19th St. — Monday and Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday from 12:30 to 7:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. 4 p.m.
• Castor Community Health Centre, 4909 50th Ave. — Monday from 1 to 7 p.m.
• Consort Community Hall, 4602 50th Ave. — Thursday from 1 to 7 p.m.
• Coronation Community Centre, 4820 Government Rd. — Tuesday from 1 to 7 p.m.
• Delburne Community Hall, 2034 21st Ave. — Thursday from 2 to 7 p.m.
• Eckville Community Centre, 5120 51st Ave. — Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
• Lacombe Memorial Centre, 5214 50th Ave. — Monday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Tuesday from 1 to 7 p.m.
• Ponoka Kinsmen Centre, 5009 46th Ave. — Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Rimbey Community Centre, 4938 50th Ave. — Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Rocky Mountain House Lou Soppit Community Centre, 4733 54th Ave. — Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
• Sylvan Lake Alliance Church, 4404 47th Ave. — Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
It takes about two weeks after getting the vaccine to be protected against influenza and protection will last up to one year.
When the influenza strains in the vaccine are the same as the strains circulating in the community, the vaccine prevents influenza in 70 to 90 per cent of healthy adults and children.
For more dates and times for clinics after next week, visit www.albertahealthservices.ca/influenza.asp.