More Central Albertans are taking a pro-active approach to the flu by attending Alberta Health Services immunization clinics.
As of Oct. 22, a total of 22,554 people were immunized against influenza at local clinics, which is more than the number of people immunized last year at this time.
“We are slightly higher with our immunizations under age two, which I think is very positive because young children certainly are at high risk of complications,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, one of the medical officer of health for Alberta Health Services Central Zone on Wednesday.
The immunization count does not include people vaccinated at pharmacies or doctor offices.
Last year 83,850 doses of flu vaccine were administered in AHS Central Zone, including First Nations, through clinics and other sources.
Clinics were launched on Oct. 17. and immunization is available free of charge to Albertans six months of age and older.
Clinics wrapped up at the Westerner Park Harvest Centre on Wednesday and will run at Parkland Mall in November.
Alberta Health Services says people at the highest risk for severe illness and complications from influenza also include seniors 65 and older, long-term care residents, pregnant and breast-feeding women, and anyone who suffers from a chronic condition.
This year’s vaccination contains the same three influenza strains as last year — influenza A strains H1N1 and H3N2, and one influenza B strain.
Hinshaw said there wasn’t a huge shift in the strains circulating, but people should still get vaccinated this year because the vaccine protection doesn’t last very long.
So far Alberta has seen two confirmed cases of influenza, one in the north and one in the south.
“It’s still early in the season,” Hinshaw said.
“There’s a lot of illness. People have been reporting cough and fever, but the actual viruses causing the illness in the community right now, that’s not influenza yet. Certainly as the season goes on we’ll see more and more of it.”
“I would encourage anyone who is thinking of getting vaccine to get it as soon as possible because it does take about two weeks before it becomes effective.”
She said immunization is 80 to 90 per cent effective against influenza for healthy children and adults. For people over age 65, it’s 50 to 60 per cent effective because their immune system doesn’t always respond as efficiently to this particular vaccine.
Clinics at Parkland Mall, at 67th Street and Gaetz Avenue, will be held:
• Nov. 2, 3 and 4 from 1 to 8 p.m.
• Nov. 5 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
• Nov. 7, 8, 9 and 10 from 1 to 8 p.m.
• Nov. 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 from 1 to 8 p.m.
• Nov. 19 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
• Nov. 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 and 28 from 1 to 8 p.m.
Albertans can find more information on immunization, including clinic schedules, online at www.albertahealthservices.ca, or by calling Health Link Alberta toll-free at 1-866-408-LINK (5465).