Time to get immunized against flu before Christmas

Public clinic in Red Deer on Saturday

So far over 70,000 Central Albertans have armed themselves against the flu by getting immunized.

Across Alberta, 736,813 people have been immunized. Among them were 70,431 in Alberta Health Services Central Zone.

Dr. Ifeoma Achebe, medical officer of health for Central Zone, said there’s still lots of room for improvement.

“This season we plan to immunize 35 per cent of Albertans and were still way below that,” Achebe said on Friday.

So far this year, the immunization rate is better. By this time last year, 688,309 were immunized.

“We’re hoping to see this momentum continue in the coming weeks.”

Last season 27 per cent of Albertans were immunized.

As of Nov. 12, a total of 70 people had been admitted to hospitals across the province, including five in AHS Central Zone. Alberta has had 220 lab-confirmed influenza cases. Twenty-six were in Central Zone.

Achebe said now is a good time to be immunized and protected for the Christmas season. It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to be effective.

“Influenza comes this time of the year all the time. Right now we have the weapon to protect ourselves, and that’s the vaccine.”

Vaccine is available free of charge to all Albertans six months of age and older.

An AHS community drop-in immunization clinic will be held Saturday, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Red Deer First Christian Reformed Church, at 16 McVicar St. Pre-booked appointments are available by calling 403-356-6429.

Another clinic at the church will be held Dec. 3.

Some pharmacies and physician offices also offer influenza vaccine. Children younger than age nine must be immunized at an AHS clinic.

For information on immunization clinics visit www.albertahealthservices.ca/influ.

During the 2015-16 flu season there were 62 influenza-related deaths in Alberta, including five people from Central Alberta. AHS Central Zone had 774 lab-confirmed flu cases and 202 Central Albertans were admitted to hospital.

szielinski@www.reddeeradvocate.com