More than 700,000 Albertans immunized for flu this season

WATCH: Alberta Health Services continues to urge citizens to get their flu shots as new numbers show over 100 confirmed cases in the province. Lisa MacGregor reports.

Alberta Health Services released its first round of data related to the 2019/20 flu season, and so far more than 700,000 Albertans have been immunized.

AHS releases weekly data during flu season, including the number of people who have been hospitalized or died as a result of the flu.

READ MORE: Flu forecast 2019: Here’s what to expect from this year’s flu season

So far this year, 42 people have been admitted to hospital with lab-confirmed influenza in Alberta, 27 of whom are located in the Calgary area. Ten people in the Edmonton area have been hospitalized with the flu.

“Calgary Zone in particular is seeing a big increase of influenza cases,” said Dr. Jia Hu, a medical officer of health with AHS.

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“What is important to emphasize is that influenza is here, it is serious and already sending people to the hospital. The message we must all take away is simple: get immunized. This will protect yourself, your family and our communities.”

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Ask The Doctor: The importance of the flu shot
Ask The Doctor: The importance of the flu shot

READ MORE: Alberta prepares for flu season despite delays in vaccine shipments

So far, there have been 139 cases of lab-confirmed influenza in Alberta. No one has died of the flu this season, according to AHS.

The flu vaccine has been available in most parts of the province since Oct. 21. However, there was a week-long delay in opening public flu shot clinics in Edmonton. AHS said the delay was due to the city having what AHS described as a “large population of high-risk people” who needed outreach services, like seniors lodges and long-term care centres.

READ MORE: Flu shot clinics open in Edmonton after delay

So far this season, 713,202 Albertans have been vaccinated.

“It’s important to remember the influenza disease data we capture in our weekly updates is considered a mere fraction of the influenza activity that is actually impacting our friends, loved ones and neighbours,” Hu said.

“Not all cases of influenza are lab-confirmed and not all cases require hospitalization. However, by consistently sharing the influenza disease information that we do capture, we are still ensuring Albertans understand the stark reality of influenza.”

Mike Sobel gets his flu shot live on air
Mike Sobel gets his flu shot live on air

Anyone over the age of six months can receive the flu vaccine free of charge. To find a flu clinic near you, call 811 or head to the AHS website.

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Updated data related to the Alberta flu season will be released on the AHS website every Thursday through March 2020.