November 27th, 2020

Flu shots are more important than ever


By Jensen, Randy on October 20, 2020.

Alissa Mix holds her son Daxton's hand as his sisters Trinity and Rebecca wait for their turn for a flu shot from public health nurse Carol Nagel during an influenza immunization clinic last year. Herald file photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Ian Martens

Lethbridge Herald

imartens@lethbridgeherald.com

Getting a flu shot this year is more important than ever amid current health-care efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

That’s the message Alberta Health Services is sending out as this season’s influenza immunization campaign began on Monday.

“Now more than ever, we all need to get immunized against influenza,” said Dr. Kristin Klein, Medical Officer of Health for the AHS Provincial Immunization Program.

“We’ve experienced a pandemic this year already and we all need to do our part to prevent influenza by getting immunized.”

The year’s immunization campaign focuses on protecting vulnerable Albertans while also making an effort to keep influenza from adding to the challenges already being faced by the health-care system.

“By keeping the number of influenza cases and outbreaks low we can help protect at-risk Albertans. We can also help our health-care workers focus on the COVID-19 response,” said Klein.

While the vaccine is available free of charge to all Albertans six months of age and over, COVID-19 precautions have changed the options for getting immunized.

Public health clinics will now be limited to children under five years of age and their immediate families or household members. In addition, this service is now only available by appointment, which can be booked through http://www.ahs.ca/influenza.

For those five year of age and older, immunization is being made available through pharmacies and doctors’ offices. Residents are asked to call ahead to check availability and if appointments are required.

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.

The province has reported to have ordered nearly 2 million doses of influenza vaccine. Klein says that amount is enough to immunize 45 per cent of the population, a goal well over last year’s rate of 33 per cent.

“My goal as a Medical Officer of Health is to use up all of those doses and to have everybody that could have a vaccine have it,” said Klein.

The province’s aim is to encourage immunization while maintaining pandemic precautions.

“It is important to get it earlier in the season, but obviously if there’s a lot of demand we’re going to have to make sure that physical distancing is still in place and people are booking those appointments, because both are pieces that we need to do to keep people safe.”

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