23 Albertans have died from the flu this season

Alexa MacLean / Global News

Nearly two dozen Albertans have died from the flu this winter, according to the latest report from Alberta Health Services released Thursday.

Of the 23 Albertans to die in hospital with lab-confirmed influenza, 10 of the cases are from the Edmonton zone.

Four deaths were in Calgary, another four are from the central zone, three are from southern Alberta and two are from northern Alberta.

READ MORE: 3 flu deaths in Alberta so far this season: AHS

The weekly AHS report covers flu statistics from Aug. 25, 2019, to Feb. 1, 2020. In that period, 994 Albertans have been hospitalized with the flu.

There are similar numbers of people infected across the province with influenza A — 2,597 and B — 2,830 for a total of 5,428 people.

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“You can think of [influenza A and influenza B] like species of the influenza virus,” said Dr. Jia Hu, Calgary zone medical officer of health with AHS.

“The vaccine that we have covers against two strains of A and two strains of B, so it should afford pretty good protection.”

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Hu noted it is unusual to see more Influenza B cases than Influenza A.

READ MORE: 3 more flu-related deaths in Edmonton zone, Alberta confirmed cases double: AHS

So far this season, more than 1.36 million flu vaccines have been administered.

“It astounds me that in spite of how much flu we have and how serious it is… less than a third of Albertans get the shot every year,” Hu said.

Flu shots are still available free of charge to all Albertans at pharmacies, public health clinics and some family doctors.

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According to Alberta Health, the province purchased 1.6 million doses of influenza vaccine for the 2019-2020 season — enough to immunize 35 per cent of the population.

-with files from Adam Toy

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