Province battles H1N1 influenza strain, sets up extra immunization clinics
By: Sara Wilson
| Posted: Thursday, Jan 09, 2014 01:03 pm
I In reaction to some of the highest levels of contracted cases of the H1N1 influenza strain since the global outbreak in 2009, the Province has set up mass immunization clinics in four cities throughout Alberta and one in Airdrie on Jan. 9 at the Town and Country Centre.
Calgary’s clinic was held at the Brentwood Village Mall during the first week of January, where long line ups were reported throughout the day. Slave Lake, Edmonton and Grand Prairie also hosted their own mass clinics over the same period.
Officials from Alberta Health Services are calling on residents to get immunized, as the H1N1 strain is included in the current vaccination.
“Over the past few weeks, we have seen a surge in the number of influenza cases across Alberta. Many of those affected are healthy young adults. This year’s predominant strain is H1N1,” Health Minister Fred Horne said.
According to Alberta Health Services (AHS), as of Jan. 1, there have been 965 lab-confirmed cases. In addition, 251 Albertans have been hospitalized due to influenza, and, five Albertans admitted to hospital have died.
“I ask every Albertan who has not received a flu shot to get one,” Horne said.
“Getting immunized protects you, your friends, family, co-workers and everyone you come into contact with. That includes vulnerable Albertans for whom the flu can mean serious illness or even death.”
Vaccinations throughout the Province are free of charge.
According to AHS, since the beginning of the 2013/2014 flu season (end of August to present) 150,000 people have been vaccinated in the Calgary and area region (including Rocky View County).
The H1N1 Influenza strain affects those in their 30s, 40s and 50s harder than seniors, according to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC).
“While these numbers are similar to those from last year, it is concerning that we are seeing younger, working-age adults being hospitalized,” Horne said.
In addition to provincial clinics and pharmacies, Airdrie’s Polaris Travel Clinic and Pharmacy is also offering the free flu shot.
“We are able to book flu shot appointments for the same day, and we are extending our hours to accommodate the increased demand,” said owner/pharmacist Jason Kmet.
Polaris Travel Clinic is located at 404 -191 Edwards Way SW Airdrie.
The CDC lists the following as symptoms of the H1N1 flu virus: Flu symptoms include: A 100F or higher fever or feeling feverish (not everyone with the flu has a fever), a cough and/or sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, headaches and/or body aches, chills, fatigue and nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea (most common in children).
The centre also warns that if you should seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of the following: Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, purple or blue discoloration of the lips, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting, seizures or flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough.
Influenza immunization will be offered to all individuals six months of age and older, on Jan. 9 from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Town and Country Hall at 103, 275 Jensen Drive NE.
The newly added clinic is in addition to the ongoing Airdrie-area influenza immunization opportunities, which run through to the end of March 2014.
For detailed clinic information, including complete clinic schedules and locations, call Health Link Alberta at 1-866-408-5465 or visit www.albertahealthservices.ca