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 theone before it. And because influenza viruses change, sodoes the annual influenza vaccine.
This flu season, three different strains of influenza(H1N1, H3N2 and influenza B) could show up inAlberta. Whereas last year, two different vaccines wereneeded to protect against pandemic H1N1 and seasonalinfluenza, this year, Albertans will be offered a singleinfluenza shot that will provide protection against allthree strains of flu.
Dr. Judy MacDonald, medical officer of health withAlberta Health Services and the physician overseeingthe planning and delivery of its seasonal influenzavaccine program, strongly recommends everyone inAlberta 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 65years and older, long-term care residents, pregnantand breastfeeding women and anyone with a chronicmedical condition are at higher risk for severe influenza or complications. Individuals in these groups areencouraged to make vaccination a priority early in theinfluenza season.
“It’s also important for people who come in contactwith those in these high-risk groups to be immunizedpromptly,” MacDonald says. “That includes healthcareworkers and people who live with or work with thoseat 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 monthsof age or older, free of charge.
• The flu vaccine is also available through some familyphysicians, pharmacies and workplace programs,although, in some cases, these providers may chargea 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 theH1N1 pandemic over, but the H1N1 strain of influenzastill exists and is expected to continue circulating as adominant strain. This year’s flu shot is recommendedfor all Albertans and protects you against H1N1, aswell as influenza B and H3N2.