LETHBRIDGE – The changing seasons means its flu season in Canada, and starting this week Albertans have the opportunity to protect themselves and others against influenza through Alberta’s annual influenza immunization program.
The first clinic opening locally will be on Tuesday, Oct. 16, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Main Pavilion at Exhibition Park.
The vaccine will be available free of charge to all Albertans six months of age and older at hundreds of Alberta Health Services public influenza immunization clinics, as well as at many pharmacists and physician offices around the province that can provide immunization to Albertans five years of age and older.
Minister of Health Sarah Hoffman says all of us have a role in reducing the spread of influenza.
“I encourage all Albertans to do their part and get immunized this season to help protect themselves, their families and communities from influenza.”
A release from AHS states immunization is the most effective means of protecting against the strains of influenza virus circulating each season.
Because influenza strains change season to season, Albertans cannot rely on having been immunized in years past.
“It’s important to get immunized early in the season,” Acting Senior Medical Officer of Health for AHS Dr. Christopher Sikora said. “You may be healthy now but, without immunization, everyone is at risk. Prevention is your only protection.”
“Last season, influenza immunization cut Albertans’ risk for influenza by just over 40 percent. That’s great but last year’s immunization won’t protect you this season. You need this season’s immunization to be protected this season,” Dr. Sikora added.
Last influenza season, more than 3,000 Albertans with influenza were hospitalized and 92 Albertans died with influenza.
Influenza causes more emergency department visits than heart attacks and strokes, not to mention significant downtime from work and leisure activities.
Dr. Sikora says influenza doesn’t discriminate.
“Though some Albertans are at greater risk of severe complications, no one is naturally immune to influenza. Please don’t take the risk. Influenza can be one less thing we battle this winter. For yourself, and your loved ones, get immunized.”
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