People in the Peace country are being urged to get the flu shot. Clinics will open across Alberta on October 15th and Medical Officer of Health for Alberta Health Services’ North Zone Dr. Albert de Villiers wants everyone who can to get immunized.
“Trying to convince people to come back and get it again is probably our biggest job. To make sure people know that influenza is still serious and that immunization actually still works. You need to come get it every year.”
Last flu season, 92 people died in hospital of the flu in Alberta. De Villiers says the flu vaccine could have saved many of those people, whether from getting vaccinated themselves or from others around them doing so.
“You might not be as sick, but you might get somebody else sick like an elderly family member or somebody you go and visit or a little baby that can’t get vaccinated because they’re not six months old yet. We want to make sure you think about other people as well.”
It’s too early to predict what strain of the influenza virus will impact the province this winter. However, de Villiers stresses that no matter how effective the vaccine is, it’s still better than not getting the shot.
“Some people think, ‘I’ve got the vaccine; it’s 100 per cent effective,’ and unfortunately there’s no vaccine that’s 100 per cent effective, but without the vaccine you’ve got a 100 per cent chance of getting it because you’re not protected.”
The decision on what strains are included in the flu shot is made internationally, and it will have four different kinds of dead viruses. Because it takes about two weeks to become effective, people are encouraged to get the vaccine early in the season.
Pharmacists can offer the flu shot to people five years and older, when the previous limit was nine years old. De Villers also reminds people to take other steps to prevent the spread of illness.
“The most important piece is the immunization, but then also remember to wash your hands, cover your cough when you’re coughing, and stay home when you’re sick so you don’t make anybody else sick.”