Second wave of flu receding in area

The worst of H1N1’s second wave may be over.

The worst of H1N1’s second wave may be over.

Absentee rates at Central Alberta schools and visits to the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre emergency department due to influenza-like illness have fallen considerably.

Larry Jacobs, superintendent at Wolf Creek School Division, said this week that absenteeism declined dramatically.

“It was sort of an up-and-down thing. It seemed to be up in one school area then down for a couple of days, then up in different parts of the jurisdiction,” Jacobs said on Thursday.

Red Deer Catholic, Chinook’s Edge and Red Deer Public also reported less than 10 per cent absentee rate.

“Things are pretty well back to normal,” said Bruce Buruma, director of community relations with Red Deer Public Schools.

Emergency room visits due to influenza-like illness continue to tumble this week. On Tuesday, 13 people went to the Red Deer ER and on Wednesday, there were nine compared with about 50 per day last week.

As of Thursday, 1,012 people in Alberta had been hospitalized with H1N1 and 45 people have died.

Dr. Gerry Predy, Alberta Health Services’ senior medical officer of health, said the number of people with the virus in intensive care units has fallen to about 25 per cent, but it’s too soon to say if it will keep dropping.

“It appears the second wave is easing off. We will see, I think, it improve over probably next couple of weeks. We’ll continue to do surveillance and monitor the situation,” Predy said.

Even though the wave is subsiding, people should know it’s not too late to get the vaccine, he said.

“Holiday season is coming up. And we know in the holiday season there is a lot of visiting and it’s a high-risk time for transmission of influenza and other viruses. People should be getting the vaccine.”

About 570,000 doses have been given out in Alberta, with about 26,000 on Wednesday. In Central Alberta, 2,515 people were vaccinated.

Traffic at immunization clinics picked up this week as more seniors became eligible.

Starting today, families with children under 18 became eligible for vaccination. Early next week, the general public is expected to be eligible.

For details on vaccine eligibility or clinic locations and dates, go online to www.albertahealthservices.ca

Correction: The H1N1 story in Thursday’s Advocate should have read: As of Wednesday, 959 people had been admitted to Alberta hospitals with H1N1 virus and 43 had died.

Central Alberta clinics will be held at the following locations:

Friday

• Red Deer, Festival Hall Memorial Centre, 4214-58th St., 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

• Innisfail Alliance Church, #25, 4804-42nd Ave., 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

• Sundre Community Centre, #3-310 Centre N., 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Saturday

• Red Deer, Kentwood Alliance Church, 4 Kennedy Dr., 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more details on vaccine eligibility or clinic locations and dates go online to www.albertahealthservices.ca

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

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