On Monday, October 23, Alberta’s annual free influenza immunization program commenced. All Albertans 6-months and older can get their flu shots at Alberta Health Services (AHS) clinics, pharmacies, and physicians’ clinics across the province.
AHS reports that over 1600 people were hospitalized with the flu and 64 died from the virus during the last flu season. Of course, many more were kept away from work while they recovered at home.
An annual flu shot is the best preventative measure because the virus strain changes each year, so last season’s injection will not be effective against the new strains. The flu shot not only protects you, but also those around you, too. Increasing the number of immunized people means greater health benefits to all Albertans, especially the most vulnerable such as infants, the elderly, pregnant women, indigenous people, and those with chronic medical conditions.
The Alberta Health website shows some interesting facts about influenza immunizations:
Influenza in Alberta facts
- Alberta has purchased 1.6 million doses of influenza vaccine for the 2017/18 season. This is enough to immunize 35% of the population.
- Total cost: $12.1 million.
- In 2016/17, Alberta Health purchased 1.6 million doses of influenza vaccine.
- Total cost: $12.7 million
- 27% of Albertans (roughly 1.1 million people) received the influenza vaccine
- 64 people died and had lab-confirmed influenza
- 1,653 Albertans were admitted to hospital with lab-confirmed influenza.
- Alberta has offered universal influenza immunization free of charge to residents since 2009.
- The program before 2009 targeted those most at risk of disease and complications.
Yearly influenza immunization rates
- 2016/17 – 27.0% (more influenza data is available on the Alberta Health Services influenza website)
- 2015/16 – 27.0%
- 2014/15 – 30.0%
- 2013/14 – 27.6%
- 2012/13 – 23.0%
- 2011/12 – 22.5%
- 2010/11 – 22.0%
Your ACSA supports and encourages its employees to get immunized each year as a way of doing its part to prevent the spread of the virus. If everyone does their bit, some lives can be saved this season.