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Flu strains hitting elderly Albertans hardest

So far this flu season, 390 Albertans have been hospitalized with influenza, and there have been 23 deaths, three from the north zone.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. James Talbot says the elderly have been hardest hit this year, with the rate for those over the age of 80 is four times higher than last season.

“Among those who have died, the average age this year is 87, whereas last year it was 74, so it really is hitting grandparents and elderly people harder.”

One silver lining is that around 29 per cent of the population has gotten immunized, making it the second best year on record for Alberta Health Services, behind the 2009 pandemic.

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So far this season, more than 1.17 million Albertans have gotten the flu shot, which is almost a third more than last year at this point.

While Dr. Talbot points out that this year’s vaccine is only a partial match to the H3N2 strain going around, he argues it’s still beneficial to get immunized.

“That’s not uncommon, and with H3N2, we know from previous years that a partial match is still better than not getting the vaccine at all; a partial match does provide partial protection.”

Other than getting the flu shot, Talbot recommends staying away from work and gatherings when sick, washing your hands often, and not preparing food for others to prevent the spread of the disease.

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