Alberta’s influenza immunization program has wrapped up for the season and the province’s top doctor said there were no reported cases of the illness.
This was also a record season for vaccination uptake, chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Tuesday afternoon.
More than 1.6 million doses of influenza vaccine were administered in Alberta this season, Hinshaw said. This is the highest uptake for flu vaccine in more than 10 years, she explained.
“This season has ended like no other with zero reported cases of season influenza in Alberta,” Hinshaw said.
She pointed out that the reason for this is not because Alberta performed fewer tests, she said it’s quite the opposite. This season, more than 122,000 respiratory swabs were tested specifically for influenza, compared to fewer than 47,000 tests at this time last year.
“We are not alone. Current data globally indicates that influenza activity has been lower than expected with several countries reporting few to no influenza cases,” Hinshaw said.
Additional measures like good hygiene and physical distancing that are in place to help slow the spread of COVID-19 have played a big role in keeping influenza at bay.
“This is a reminder of the power of our collective actions,” Hinshaw said. “Through effective immunization and practicing good hygiene, physical distancing and staying home when sick, we have prevented the spread of influenza and other respiratory illnesses.
“This success reminds us that we can beat COVID-19 as well if we work together.”
Alberta’s influenza vaccine program launched in October.
Hinshaw noted that children under the age of nine who have only received one dose of the influenza vaccine can still receive their second dose until the end of April.
The 2019/2020 influenza season saw 8,470 confirmed cases of the virus and 41 deaths.
In 2018/19, there were 7,698 lab-confirmed influenza cases and 52 deaths.