October 19, 2016 1:46 pm
Updated: October 24, 2016 6:38 pm

Roll up your sleeve: Free flu shot clinics now open across Alberta

WATCH ABOVE: Immunization clinics are now open across the province. And as Sarah Offin reports, the flu came a little early this year while the shots came a little late.

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It’s that time of the year again: flu season. The province kicked off its annual influenza vaccine campaign on Monday.

Free flu shots are now available to all Albertans over the age of six months.

Alberta Health Services said getting immunized is the most effective way to protect yourself from influenza.

“It’s an important way to protect, not just yourself, but also your family and loved ones,” Associate Minister of Health Brandy Payne, who received her flu shot Monday, said.

“A healthy adult can have the flu and get through it just fine, but for some people it can be life-threatening so it’s very important to look out for those around you.”

Watch below: The province kicks off its annual influenza vaccine campaign on Monday. Kendra Slugoski reports live on how Edmonton area residents can get their seasonal vaccine.


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Flu clinics will be set up throughout the province. The vaccination will also be offered at some pharmacies. Children under the age of nine must be immunized at an Alberta Health Services clinic.

The FluMist nasal spray will also be available for kids between the ages of two and 17. While health officials in the United States said the nasal spray should not be used this year, AHS said a review by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization showed the spray is completely safe, it just might not be as effective as the jab.

“We’re very confident, looking at the whole process and what they’ve looked at, that that’s the right decision and we can safely and in confidence use this vaccine FluMist,” Dr. Martin Lavoie, Alberta’s deputy chief medical officer of health, said.

“The (United) States have looked at similar data, but also I think they give more weight to their own data and they can make their own decisions. I’m fully confident that our National Advisory Committee on Immunization is recommending the right thing for Canada.”

As of Oct. 8, there had been 56 lab-confirmed cases of the flu in Alberta, the majority of which were reported in Calgary.

READ MORE: Flu arriving ‘a little early’ in Calgary this year, AHS says

Last year, more than one million doses of the flu vaccine were administered across Alberta. However, that only represents about 27 per cent of the population.

Last season’s flu vaccination was about 45 to 50 per cent effective, according to AHS.

This year, AHS ordered 1.6 million doses of the vaccine in hopes that 35 per cent of Albertans will get their flu shot.

“Obviously we’d like to get to a point where every Albertan is immunized but we think it’s important to work our way up to that,” Payne said.

Watch below: It’s that time of year again – flu season. The Alberta Pharmacy Students Association has put together a video talking about why you should get your flu shot and dispelling some myths associated with the vaccine.

READ MORE: How well did the flu shot work in Alberta this year?

A total of 1,698 people were hospitalized last year with lab-confirmed influenza. Sixty-two people died of the flu last year, 17 of whom were from the Edmonton area.

For a list of flu clinics in Alberta, visit Alberta Health Services’ website.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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