As southern Albertans continue to cope with frigid temperatures, many are feeling a bit under the weather. The flu season is well underway and Alberta Health Services (AHS) is encouraging those who have not had their shot to get one.
“Alberta Health Services, public health is still recommending people to get vaccinated. Our influenza season is not over yet and we do often see a surge in influenza B that comes out later in the season,” said Dr. Lizette Elumir with AHS.
Compared to last year, the 2019 season has seen some improvements. Last year in southern Alberta, 96,172 people received the vaccine, 192 people were hospitalized, and there were seven deaths.
This season has already seen more than 96,000 people get the shot, while only 56 people have been hospitalized and there is only one recorded death.
“Influenza numbers are less this year than last year, and it’s always hard to compare because we have a different strain this year,” said Elumir. “We’re seeing a lot more younger people and children who are affected, but a lot less outbreaks in our seniors’ facilities.”
A much different case compared to last year where seniors were heavily impacted.
“It’s predominantly influenza H1N1, so last year it was H-3, so we see a different pattern because it’s a different strain.”
The latest strain has a greater impact on a younger generation who are making sure they get this year’s shot.
“We’ve definitely done more flu vaccinations this year than last, and we still have people coming in to get flu vaccinations,” said Doran Perry, pharmacist and owner with Shoppers Drug Mart.
AHS is attributing this year’s lower influenza numbers to the success of this year’s vaccine, which has been 70 per cent effective.
“For every ten cases of influenza among unvaccinated people, if they had been vaccinated that would have reduced our cases from 10 to three,” said Elumir.
For those who haven’t received a flu shot, there still is time and you can get a vaccine at various locations including health clinics, pharmacies and the hospital.