flu

Flu shots are available free of charge at pharmacies and doctors’ offices across the province

This year’s flu season presents an additional challenge as Alberta responds to COVID-19

Flu shots are now available free of charge at pharmacies and doctors’ offices across the province.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) is also offering immunizations by appointment for those under five years old and those in their household.

This year’s flu season presents an additional challenge as Alberta responds to COVID-19, according to a press release.

Immunization will help protect vulnerable Albertans, as well as decrease influenza-related tests, emergency room visits and hospitalizations during the pandemic.

Influenza is described as a respiratory virus that can cause serious illness and death, particularly in vulnerable groups like seniors, young children, pregnant women, and those with chronic health conditions.

“The flu shot won’t prevent COVID-19, but it will reduce your chances of getting sick with influenza and spreading it to others,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health. “While getting immunized helps, it’s also crucial to wash your hands often, cover coughs and sneezes and stay home when sick. If you have flu symptoms, book a test for COVID-19 as symptoms are similar. Let’s all do our part to keep one another safe.”

The government has ordered a record 1.96 million doses of vaccine to help protect the health of Albertans.

“We’ve purchased a record amount of vaccine and made changes to ensure that getting your flu shot is as safe and easy as possible,” said Tyler Shandro, minister of health.

“By keeping cases of influenza low, we can make sure our health-care system can keep responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and all the other health-care needs that Albertans face every day.”

According to the release, to help limit the spread of COVID-19, Alberta has shifted this year’s approach from large public health clinics to direct support by appointment through AHS, pharmacies and doctors’ offices.

This is an important but necessary step to support physical distancing and other precautions to help keep Albertans safe.

AHS is also offering the vaccine through pre-booked appointments for children under five, their family and household members. To find out more about influenza immunization and to book an appointment at a public health clinic, visit ahs.ca/influenza.

A high-dose influenza vaccine is also being directly offered to residents who are 65 years and older in provincially-funded long-term care facilities.

According to AHS, last year, Alberta’s immunization rate was 33 per cent, an increase from 30 per cent in 2018-19.

Also during the 2019-20 flu season, about 61 per cent of all influenza immunizations were administered by Alberta pharmacies.

There were 8,470 lab-confirmed cases of influenza in Alberta.

There were 41 deaths among hospitalized patients with laboratory-confirmed influenza, compared with 52 deaths in 2018-19.

-Submitted

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