Influenza has arrived in Alberta, and Alberta Health Services (AHS) is reminding Albertans who have not yet been immunized this season that without immunization, they are at risk.
“Cases we had seen initially were what we considered sporadic. This has now changed,” said Dr. Gerry Predy, AHS’ senior medical officer of health. “The level of influenza activity in the community we’re seeing now – including reported outbreak activity – tells us that influenza season has begun.”
As of Nov. 15th, there have been 219 individual cases of influenza confirmed in Alberta, including 69 hospitalized cases and seven deaths. Three outbreaks have been reported in Alberta in November.
More than 926,500 doses of vaccine have been administered to Albertans this season, as of Nov. 15th.
“Uptake of influenza vaccine has been impressive so far, but we’re certainly not where we want to be yet,” said Predy.
“It takes two weeks after being immunized to be fully protected. With the virus already circulating, Albertans need to act now: get immunized to protect yourself and reduce the further spread of disease in our province.”
Through AHS influenza immunization clinics, as well as pharmacies and physician offices around Alberta, vaccine remains easily accessible, free of charge, to all Albertans six months of age and older.
The flu causes a fever, body aches, a headache, a dry cough, and a sore or dry throat.
The symptoms usually are the worst for the first three or four days. But it can take one to two weeks to get completely better.
It usually takes one to four days to get symptoms of the flu after you have been around someone who has the virus.
Most people get better without problems.
But sometimes the flu can lead to a bacterial infection such as an ear infection, a sinus infection or bronchitis. In rare cases, the flu may cause a more serious problem such as pneumonia.
The vaccine is especially important for people who are at higher risk of problems from the flu, including adults age 65 and older; adults and children who have long-term health problems or an impaired immune system; children six to 59 months of age; women who will be pregnant during the flu season; children who are 24 months to 18 years old who use long-term Aspirin treatment; people who are obese with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more; people who live in nursing homes or long-term care centres and First Nations peoples.
Albertans can visit www.albertahealthservices.ca/influenza or call Health Link Alberta at 1-866-408-5465.