Seventy-seven Central Albertans have tested positive for the flu and 17 people have been hospitalized so far this season.
Across the province, there have been 1,424 lab-confirmed cases and 290 hospitalizations, according to Alberta Health Services.
The only flu-related death so far occurred in Calgary. Last year, 21 of Alberta’s 92 flu-related deaths were in Central Alberta.
Influenza is an infection of the nose, throat and lungs caused by a virus spread through the air. It is also spread by touching objects that have been coughed or sneezed on by someone with the flu.
“Things are beginning to ramp up,” said Dr. Ifeoma Achebe, AHS’s central zone’s medical officer of health.
“Things usually tend to peak around Christmas, especially when people start to go for Christmas parties and end-of-year get-togethers.”
She said immunization clinics are still being held.
“It takes about two weeks for vaccine immunity to kick in, so this is actually a perfect time to get it in preparation for the Christmas season.”
AHS says immunization is the most effective means of protecting against the strains of influenza virus circulating each season. Because influenza strains change from season to season, Albertans cannot rely on having been immunized in years past.
Last season, immunization cut the risk of the flu by about 40 per cent.
For clinic information, or to make an appointment, visit www.albertahealthservices.ca.