| Posted: Friday, Jan 10, 2014 04:30 pm
Prevent the flu
For those that got the flu shot, it will take your body up to 10 days to build up immunity to influenza. For those that didn't get vaccinated, protect yourself:
- Wash your hands
- Cover your cough
- Sneeze into your sleeve
- Stay at home if you are sick
Flu immunizations through the St. Albert Public Health Centre ceased as of Thursday night.
Provincial health officials expected to run out of vaccine by end of day Friday. Residents of Edmonton and surrounding areas have been directed to three mass immunization clinics in Edmonton – Westmount Mall (Woodcroft Public Health Centre), Northgate and Bonnie Doon Health Centres – as supplies last.
The majority of pharmacies and physician offices in St. Albert ran out of vaccine the weekend of Jan. 3.
The province has insisted that any remaining doses will be left and made available through dispensaries and doctors' offices while new vaccine be directed to mass clinics.
Vaccines have also been set aside for outbreak management purposes and as second doses for young children that require one.
Provincial clinics and hospitals experienced a surge in influenza cases during Christmas and the new year. More than one million Albertans have since been immunized.
"We've already immunized more Albertans than we've immunized before. Last year for the entire season we managed to get 900,000 Albertans immunized. Some of those were immunized after the peak had passed and we had some vaccine go to waste," said Dr. James Talbot, the province's chief medical officer of health.
Most recent numbers from Alberta Health indicate that eight people have died from H1N1 – the predominant flu strain this year – and more than 300 have been hospitalized.
Officials have also confirmed that the first fatal case of H5N1 – also known as bird flu – has occurred in Alberta.
The woman, in her late 20s, was a nurse at the Red Deer Regional Hospital. She died Jan. 3, about one week after returning from a trip to China. Talbot said risk of transmission of avian flu from person-to-person is very rare.
“Not a bad flu year”
Many people waiting in line at the St. Albert Public Health Centre both Tuesday and Thursday admitted they don't get the flu shot every year.
The last time Dorine and Chuck Jones got vaccinated was during the 2009 H1N1 scare. They queued up this year because of the amount of media attention as well as their advancing age.
"We're getting older. We're more vulnerable and more susceptible to problems it may cause," said Chuck.
Officials have reassured that this flu season has been similar to years past.
"This is a normal flu season for Alberta," stressed Talbot. "Every flu season health systems are stressed, hospitalizations increase, ICU beds go into short supply and unfortunately some Albertans die."
To help reduce the spread of influenza and free up emergency departments, Alberta Health Services opened a flu care clinic on Friday at 13221 -115 Avenue in Edmonton. The clinic will operate seven days per week from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. for assessment and treatment of influenza.
They advise only those who are experiencing moderate flu symptoms – coughing, fever, sore throat, joint pain, muscle aches and severe exhaustion – attend the clinic. If you believe you are acutely ill, go to an emergency department. Immunizations will not be available.