Flu vaccine available in Alberta starting Monday

Click to play video: 'Learn more about the 2021/22 flu season'
Learn more about the 2021/22 flu season
Pharmacist Sonal Ejner joins Global News Morning Calgary live via Skype to discuss the 2021-2022 flu season and the OCT. 18 roll out of flu shots. – Oct 15, 2021

Albertans six months and older can receive their free flu shot starting Monday, the province announced on Friday.

Appointments can be made online for participating pharmacies and Alberta Health Services’ public health clinics.

If there are no appointments in an area, Albertans can call local pharmacies or doctors’ offices to learn when flu vaccines will be available.

Appointments can be booked through Health Link by calling 811 and participating pharmacies will be offering drop-in appointments starting Monday.

During her update on Thursday, chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw stressed the importance of the flu shot this year as Alberta continues to grapple with the fourth wave of COVID-19.

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“To ease the strain caused by increased demand for COVID-19 and influenza testing, I urge every eligible Albertan to get the COVID-19 and influenza vaccines as soon as you are able to,” she said.

“This will greatly reduce the number of people who get infected and the number of symptomatic people who need to be tested.”

Click to play video: 'Alberta’s top doctor outlines importance of getting flu shot amid COVID-19 4th wave'
Alberta’s top doctor outlines importance of getting flu shot amid COVID-19 4th wave

As of Thursday, Alberta had confirmed three cases of influenza, all with links to travel.

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“It’s some indication we’re likely to have an influenza season this year,” Dr. Kristin Klein, the lead medical officer of health for communicable disease control said, adding it’s too early to know what the season may look like.

Last year, while the province was under strict restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19, the province had no lab-confirmed cases and no flu-related deaths.

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During a normal flu season, Alberta would have between 10 and 20 lab-confirmed cases of influenza by this point, Klein said.

During last year’s flu season, 37 per cent of Albertans were vaccinated against influenza, compared to 33 per cent the year before.

“Hopefully we can meet that or exceed it this year,” Klein said.

There is no concern about Alberta having enough supply to provide everyone who wants a flu vaccine with a dose.

“Getting immunized has never been more important as Alberta hospitals are at capacity, strained to provide care for very sick people, including those with COVID-19,” Health Minister Jason Copping said in Friday’s news release. “We must do all that we can to protect ourselves, our families and our neighbours from COVID-19 as well as the flu.

“Getting immunized will help stop the spread of influenza, reduce flu-related visits to the emergency ward and help our health system provide care to those in need.”

Click to play video: 'Doctors warn flu season could return with a vengeance'
Doctors warn flu season could return with a vengeance

Albertans 65 and older are eligible to receive a high-dose flu vaccine this year. Those six months to 64 will receive the regular dose. According to the province, both vaccines protect from four common strains of the virus.

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Hinshaw said Thursday it is safe to receive both the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine at the same time, and urged Albertans who still need either dose of COVID vaccine to receive the flu vaccine at the same time.

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