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AHS strongly encourages getting flu shot

Alberta Health Services is strongly encouraging the public to be proactive about scheduling their influenza immunizations this year. As flu season kicks into gear, AHS Northzone Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kathryn Koliaska says getting immunized plays a key part in keeping family, friends and the public protected.

“The influenza immunization, or the flu shot, is the best protection against influenza that you can get for yourself as well as that you can use to protect those around you,” she says. “There’s a variety of providers out there and a variety of arrangements out there so make sure you look ahead and book ahead.”

She adds this year’s vaccine, like previous years, contains four different vaccine strains in it, two ‘A,’ strains, and two ‘B,’ strains, which are predicted to be the predominant strains circulating this season. According to Grande Prairie MLA and Minister of Municipal Affairs, Tracy Allard, the province of Alberta has ordered a record 1.96 million doses of the vaccine, which is being offered free of charge.

In 2019, more than 8,470 people became infected with influenza across Alberta. Allard says this year is more important than ever to get immunized.

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“We need to keep tests, hospitalizations, and ICU admissions as low as possible so that the health system has [the] capacity to support people with COVID-19, influenza, and all the other health needs that we face every day,” she says. “Getting immunized is the right thing to do. It means you are doing your part to make sure you protect your family, friends, and coworkers.”

Infants under the age of six months are not able to get the flu shot. Koliaska says influenza circulating will certainly not help the ongoing battle with COVID-19.

“We [still] have a pandemic right now too so minimizing the amount of severe viruses circulating is absolutely the right thing to do.”

She adds the best way to get accurate and consistent information is to speak with medical professionals, as opposed to relying upon social media.

“The challenge with getting information off Facebook is you have multiple contributors with multiple backgrounds, so I would certainly encourage anyone, if they’re looking for medical information, go to a medical recourse such as Alberta Health Services or Alberta Health’s website,” she says.

The same social distancing rules and health protocols apply in areas that are giving flu shots as they do anywhere else. Koliaska adds viruses don’t really care where you are and will spread where there is close person to person contact.

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