The flu shot is your best defence against
Flu season. It’s as predictable as falling leaves and dropping temperatures. Yet, each flu season is a little different from the
one before it. And because influenza viruses change, so
does the annual influenza vaccine.
This flu season, three different strains of influenza
(H1N1, H3N2 and influenza B) could show up in
Alberta. Whereas last year, two different vaccines were
needed to protect against pandemic H1N1 and seasonal
influenza, this year, Albertans will be offered a single
influenza shot that will provide protection against all
three strains of flu.
Dr. Judy MacDonald, medical officer of health with
Alberta Health Services and the physician overseeing
the planning and delivery of its seasonal influenza
vaccine program, strongly recommends everyone in
Alberta get a flu shot this year.
“It’s the single most-effective thing you can do to
protect yourself and your family,” MacDonald says.
“Every year is a new year. No matter what you did last
year about influenza vaccine, you still need to get a flu
shot this year to reduce your risk of influenza.”
While influenza can be mild in some people, Mac-
Donald adds it can be severe — even fatal — in others.
Young children six to 23 months old, seniors 65
years and older, long-term care residents, pregnant
and breastfeeding women and anyone with a chronic
medical condition are at higher risk for severe influenza or complications. Individuals in these groups are
encouraged to make vaccination a priority early in the
“It’s also important for people who come in contact
with those in these high-risk groups to be immunized
promptly,” MacDonald says. “That includes healthcare
workers and people who live with or work with those
at high risk.”
reported by SHANNON EVANS, AHS
AHS mass influenza immunization clinics started on Oct. 12; check the AHS website (albertahealthservices.
ca), or call HealthLink Alberta toll-free at 1-866-408-LINK (5465), for details on the clinics nearest you.
Free influenza vaccination clinics are now open across
• Influenza vaccine is available to anyone who lives,
works and goes to school in Alberta and is six months
of age or older, free of charge.
• The flu vaccine is also available through some family
physicians, pharmacies and workplace programs,
although, in some cases, these providers may charge
a fee for giving the flu shot.
• Flu season typically starts in October and lasts until April.
• Children are usually the first to contract seasonal influenza.
• The World Health Organization recently declared the
H1N1 pandemic over, but the H1N1 strain of influenza
still exists and is expected to continue circulating as a
dominant strain. This year’s flu shot is recommended
for all Albertans and protects you against H1N1, as
well as influenza B and H3N2.