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Flu shots now available across Alberta

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro and chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw rolled up their sleeves for flu shots.

Flu shots are now available free of charge at pharmacies and doctors’ offices across the province.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) is also offering immunizations by appointment for those under five years old and those in their household.

This year’s flu season presents an additional challenge as Alberta responds to COVID-19.

“Getting immunized is more important now than ever before,” Premier Jason Kenney said in a news release. “It’s the best way to protect your health and the health of your friends and neighbours.”

“It will also allow our health system to keep focusing on the fight against COVID-19 while we continue safely opening Alberta’s economy.”

Immunization will help protect vulnerable Albertans, as well as decrease influenza-related tests, emergency room visits and hospitalizations during the pandemic.

The government has ordered a record 1.96-million doses of vaccine to help protect the health of Albertans.

“We’ve purchased a record amount of vaccine and made changes to ensure that getting your flu shot is as safe and easy as possible,” Health Minister Tyler Shandro said. “By keeping cases of influenza low, we can make sure our health care system can keep responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and all the other health care needs that Albertans face every day.”

To help limit the spread of COVID-19, Alberta has shifted this year’s approach from large public health clinics to direct support by appointment through AHS, pharmacies and doctors’ offices.

This is an important but necessary step to support physical distancing and other precautions to help keep Albertans safe.

Pharmacists and physician offices throughout the province are now offering the vaccine to all Albertans five years of age and older.

“The flu shot won’t prevent COVID-19, but it will reduce your chances of getting sick with influenza and spreading it to others,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health. “While getting immunized helps, it’s also crucial to wash your hands often, cover coughs and sneezes and stay home when sick.”

“If you have flu symptoms, book a test for COVID-19 as symptoms are similar. Let’s all do our part to keep one another safe.”

For the 2020-’21 season, Alberta ordered 1.96-million doses of influenza vaccine — enough to immunize 45 per cent of the population.

Last year, Alberta’s immunization rate was 33 per cent, an increase from 30 per cent in 2018-’19.