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Get ready for more flu cases, AHS

Health officials renew call for immunization

By: Cory Hare

  |  Posted: Saturday, Dec 28, 2013 06:00 am

VACCINATIONS AVAILABLE – Alberta Health Services is recommending that all Albertans be vaccinated against the flu.
VACCINATIONS AVAILABLE – Alberta Health Services is recommending that all Albertans be vaccinated against the flu.
FILE PHOTO/St. Albert Gazette

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Holiday immunization

Influenza immunization will be available at three public clinics, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the following locations and dates:

Bonnie Doon Health Centre, 8314 88 Ave.
Friday, Jan. 3

Northgate Health Centre, 9499 137 Ave.
Monday, Dec. 30 and Friday, Jan. 3
West Jasper Place Health Centre, 9720 182 St.
Monday, Dec. 30

A recent surge in influenza cases is likely just the precursor to even more flu activity, said Dr. Gerry Predy, chief medical health officer for Alberta Health Services.

The number of lab-confirmed cases has roughly doubled, from 65 last week to 128 this week.

“Once the kids go back to school, that’s usually the time right after Christmas when we see flu spread even moreso, while we’re having a lot of activity now we expect even more in January after school goes back in,” Predy said.

AHS officials have decided to keep three Edmonton vaccination clinics open during the two-week stretch over Christmas and New Year’s, when clinics were originally scheduled to be closed.

The St. Albert clinic will resume operation at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 7. The clinic is located at the St. Albert Public Health Centre at 23 Sir Winston Churchill Ave.

About 90 per cent of the lab-confirmed cases have been the H1N1 strain, which is one that disproportionately affects young people, Predy said.

“One of our messages is that H1N1 can cause serious illness in young people and so everybody should be vaccinated, not just the elderly,” Predy said.

Signs of influenza include coughing, fever, sore throat, joint pain, muscle aches and severe exhaustion.

Predy reminds people to wash their hands regularly and avoid socializing if they’re feeling any flu symptoms.

Preliminary figures suggest that immunization rates in Alberta are up a bit from last year – about 425,000 people have been immunized so far.

“We’re hopeful that the numbers are going up but despite that we’re still concerned that not enough people are being immunized,” Predy said.


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