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Get your H1N1 vaccination: it's important to protect yourself, your family

Get your H1N1 vaccination: it's important to protect yourself, your family

November 24, 2009

A message from Dr. Gerry Predy, Senior Medical Officer of Health, Alberta Health Services

As we look at the community statistics and the number of H1N1 related admissions to our hospitals, we feel that the second wave of H1N1 influenza is waning.  However, we also know that this is only the beginning of the influenza season. The H1N1 virus will continue to circulate in our communities throughout the winter and a third wave of this disease is likely.

We have taken stock of the vaccine inventory on hand and noted how much has been utilized by the various high risk groups. Based on this information, we are now offering the H1N1 vaccine to all Albertans. There is enough vaccine, as well as health care professionals needed to deliver vaccine, to administer 50,000 doses per day.

The message we want to get out to Albertans is that it is still very important to get your vaccination and it's not too late to prevent the spread of H1N1. Immunization is recommended for everyone over six months of age.

An incredible number of people have recognized the importance of protecting themselves and their loved ones from H1N1. Over 700,000 Albertans have been vaccinated, 20 percent of the population of this province. That is a remarkable number of people to have been vaccinated in a few short weeks considering we often don’t see this kind of response over an entire influenza season.  Without the incredible efforts of health care professionals across the province, this would not have been possible.

Given the vaccination tally to date, we feel that in the past few weeks most of the targeted high risk groups have received the vaccine and now it's important to make the vaccine available to the public. There is no rush to get the vaccine as there will be enough for everyone who wants it.  While a high demand is anticipated, and we have staffed accordingly, the clinics will continue to be open for weeks to come, in order to ensure that all who want a vaccination will receive it.

To reduce wait times, we've developed efficient line management strategies for handling large volumes of people. The clinics are also able to deal with fluctuations in volume with most locations around the province averaging line ups less than 30 minutes long. There is no need to line up prior to clinics opening and there will continue to be a variety of clinic locations, with flexible hours to suit many different schedules.

Questions have arisen about the need for healthy children to have a second dose of the H1N1 vaccine.  The Public Health Agency of Canada recently announced that children who have no chronic medical conditions, between the ages of three and 10, do not require a second dose of the vaccine. Children between the ages of six months and three years of age, and those who are considered high risk because of chronic medical conditions, still need the second dose.

Details about clinic times and locations are available at www.albertahealthservices.ca

Dr. Gerry Predy
Senior Medical Officer of Health
Alberta Health Services