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Five deaths prompt flu immunization reminder

Following confirmation of five influenza-related deaths and a significant increase in reported hospitalizations, Alberta Health Services and Alberta Health reminded people Thursday to get immunized promptly.
“Influenza is here in Alberta and we’re now seeing its tragic toll,” said Dr. Gerry Predy, Alberta Health Services senior medical officer of health. “One Albertan death is too many and this week we have the unfortunate responsibility of confirming five.”
“If that isn’t enough to encourage immunization, the upswing in hospitalizations is yet further evidence of the very real severity of influenza.”
Two of the deaths were in the Calgary zone and three in the Edmonton zone.
Four of the deceased were not immunized against influenza.
One of the five — a child — had received one of the two doses of vaccine required for children less than nine years of age who are being immunized for the first time this season.
“Immunization saves lives,” said Dr. Martin Lavoie, acting chief medical officer of health for Alberta Health. “It’s readily available, safe and free of charge. You may be healthy today but we want you to stay that way. Protect yourself and your loved ones. Get immunized. Do not delay.”
More than two million doses of influenza vaccine were purchased for use in Alberta this influenza season.
Just over one million doses have been administered.
Influenza immunization continues to be offered to all Albertans, six months of age and older, free of charge.
Albertans can find influenza immunization clinic schedules or by calling Health Link at 811.
Many pharmacists and physician offices are also still offering influenza immunization.
“Whether you’re doing it for yourself, for your family, or for your community, it’s the right reason,” Predy said. “We thank you for getting immunized and arming yourself for the influenza battle.”