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AB Health Services urges more flu vaccination

Public health nurse Kayla Tuscherer administers vaccine at a recent clinic in Fort Macleod.

Nine confirmed cases mean flu season has arrived in Alberta.
Alberta Health Services is urging more Albertans to get vaccinated to slow the spread of influenza.
“The confirmed cases are just the tip of the iceberg,” senior medical officer of health Dr. Gerry Predy said.
As of Thursday 365,000 Albertans had received the flu vaccine at one of the free clinics offered by Alberta Health Services.
That’s a drop of three per cent in the number of people vaccinated at the same time last year.
“On the immunization side we still have a long way to go,” Dr. Predy told reporters Thursday during a news conference.
Alberta Health Services has as a target immunizing half the province’s population, or about 1.7-million people.
“It’s not about your health alone,” Dr. Predy explained. “It’s about the health of those around you.”
Immunization slows the spread of influenza, which in turn serves to reduce the number of people seeking flu treatment in emergency rooms.
Dr. Predy refuted the claim the vaccine is not safe, which some people use as the reason not to be immunized.
“Immunization is effective and safe,” Dr. Predy said.
Others do not take advantage of the free vaccine, citing their good health.
“If you are healthy, you can still get influenza and get pretty sick,” Dr. Predy noted.
Some people simply don’t like needles, so Alberta Health Services this year is testing on a limited basis the administration of flu vaccine through nasal spray.
Only about 3,000 doses of vaccine are available through nasal spray.
“We’re hoping that next year we’ll be able to offer it in a broader way,” Dr. Predy said.
The nine confirmed cases of influenza were found in four of the five Alberta Health Services zones.
“It looks like we’re heading into the peak influenza season,” Dr. Predy advised.
So far 128,000 people have been vaccinated in the Edmonton zone, along with 118,000 in Calgary, 50,000 in the north zone, 45,000 in the central zone and just 24,000 in the south.