Vaccination numbers down from last year

Fewer Central Albertans have been immunized against the flu by the public health department so far this year.

Fewer Central Albertans have been immunized against the flu by the public health department so far this year.

“Public health-administered doses is down about 6,000 compared to this time last year,” said Dr. Digby Horne, a chief medical officer of health for Alberta Health Services Central Zone, on Thursday.

He does not know why.

“One suggestion is pharmacists and physicians may be doing more (immunizations). But we won’t know their numbers until December.”

As of Nov. 10, a total of 38,276 doses were administered by public health in Central Zone. That includes children under nine who have so far only had one of the two doses they require for immunization.

Last year, 85,877 doses of the influenza vaccine were administered in Central Alberta.

Six influenza cases have been confirmed in Central Alberta as of Nov. 10.

Between Aug. 26 and Nov. 10, a total of 82 cases were confirmed across Alberta.

Horne said it takes two weeks after immunization for full protection so now is the best time to prepare for the flu season with fewer cases and readily accessible vaccine.

“We haven’t had any indication the strains circulating this year are different from what’s in the vaccine.”

On Thursday, the province made it easier for adults to get immunized by giving them the option of using the nasal spray influenza vaccine FluMist.

Originally for the two-to-17-year-old population, nasal spray vaccine availability has been expanded because of a lower than expected demand.

The nasal spray also has a shorter expiry date than the injectable influenza vaccines, Agriflu and Fluviral, that are offered through the province’s annual influenza immunization program.

The spray is good until the end of January.

As of early November, only about 38,000 out of a total 150,000 available doses of FluMist have been administered.

Dr. James Talbot, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said children and youth were OK with getting the needle.

“We have anecdotal stories of parents who insisted their kids get the needle. They seemed to think it was somehow better that way,” Talbot said.

A total of 3,447 nasal spray vaccine doses were administered to children and youth in Central Alberta as of Nov. 10.

FluMist is now available to Albertans who request it at Alberta Health Services influenza immunization clinics, as well as through physicians and pharmacists.

Talbot said there was some wiggle room for adults who have a fear of needles to get the spray even before Thursday.

The spray is a little more effective for the two-to-17-year-olds, but is still an acceptable level of protection for other age groups, he said.

In Canada, only Alberta and Quebec are using the spray.

So far, 451,000 Albertans have been immunized by spray or needle this year.

“That’s about seven per cent under where we were at the same time last year. That’s reasonably close. We always see some variation on when people get concerned about getting their shot. It’s often related to when they start to see lots of people starting to be affected by flu in their community.”

In addition to immunization, Talbot advised Albertans to ramp up other precautions like standing more than a metre away from someone coughing, washing their hands and using hand sanitizer if they are out in public and before they eat. Those infected should also stay away from work or school, cough into their elbow, and remove “sodden Kleenex” from pockets to keep their hands clean.

Immunization clinics at Red Deer at the Holiday Inn, 6500 67th St., will be held Monday and Tuesday from 1 to 7:30 p.m.

Clinics at Red Deer First Christian Reformed Church, 16 McVicar St., will be held Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and Monday from 1 to 7:30 p.m.

People are asked to bring their Alberta Health Care Card.

For more information on the influenza vaccine and for more clinic times and locations, visit www.albertahealthservices.ca or call Alberta Health Link at 1-866-408-LINK (5465).

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Government of Alberta has identified 1,828 new cases and 15 new COVID-19-related deaths, which brings the provincial death toll to 590. (File photo)
Alberta identifies 1,828 new COVID-19 cases on Friday

Central zone has 1,251 active cases

Higher sales of cannabis helped Canadian farmers come out in the green. (Black Press Media File)
Drumheller RCMP lay charge for unlawfully distributing cannabis

A joint forces investigation involving the AGLC investigation team partnered with Drumheller… Continue reading

Three weapons have been seized and four people are facing charges following a police operation in central Alberta. (Photo contributed by RCMP)
RCMP, Lacombe Police seize loaded guns, arrest four people

Four people have been arrested and multiple prohibited firearms are off the… Continue reading

The Salvation Army's 2020 Christmas Kettle Campaign includes a new $5 tap feature for pandemic-friendly donations. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Salvation Army officers safe, touchless options for Kettle donation this year

The Salvation Army in Red Deer needs help. Kettle donations are needed… Continue reading

The Central Alberta Humane Society is looking for volunteers. (Photo contributed)
Central Alberta Humane Society looking for volunteers

The Central Alberta Humane Society is in need of volunteers Dec. 11… Continue reading

Dan Cochrane, senior pastor at CrossRoads Church. Contributed photo
CrossRoads Church closes its doors for two weeks after staff member tests positive for COVID-19

CrossRoads Church made the decision to cancel in-house services for two weeks… Continue reading

Blank Unemployment Benefits form
Red Deer jobless rate down slightly in November

Red Deer’s unemployment rate dropped by half a per cent in November.… Continue reading

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia's deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting health during pandemic in B.C., survey shows

VANCOUVER — British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says a survey on… Continue reading

A woman pays her respects to victims of a mass shooting at a roadblock in Portapique, N.S. on Wednesday, April 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Three charged, including spouse, with supplying ammunition to N.S. mass shooter

HALIFAX — Three people, including the killer’s former spouse, have been charged… Continue reading

Downtown Iqaluit, Nunavut, is shown after 2 p.m. sunset on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. Nunavut will look to get the Moderna vaccine once it is available in Canada. Chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson says Moderna is preferred because the cold storage and shipping of the Pfizer vaccine is too difficult in the northern territory. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Emma Tranter
Moderna COVID vaccine best for Nunavut because of storage, shipping: top doctor

IQALUIT, Nunavut — Nunavut is looking to get the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine… Continue reading

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau affirms farmers’ right to demonstrate after India criticizes his remarks

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy… Continue reading

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada’s COVID-19 case count passes 400,000 mark

OTTAWA — Canada has now recorded more than 400,000 cases of COVID-19… Continue reading

Longtime central Alberta politician Judy Gordon has passed away. Photo courtesy of the City of Lacombe
Former Lacombe Mayor Judy Gordon passes away

Gordon also served as MLA for Lacombe-Stettler before retiring from politics in 2010

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro (left) and Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw pose for a photo after they received a flu shot earlier this year. Hinshaw has been encouraging Albertans to get a flu shot this season. As of Nov. 28, Central zone has already administered 122,314 doses of the flu vaccine, compared to 126,288 last season. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta’s flu vaccine distribution already closing in on last year’s totals

Central zone has administered 122,000 doses of influenza vaccine

Most Read