January 14, 2016
EDMONTON – Following confirmation of five deaths in individuals with influenza and a significant week-over-week increase in reported hospitalizations, Alberta Health Services (AHS) and Alberta Health (AH) are reminding all Albertans who have not yet been immunized against influenza to get immunized promptly.
“Influenza is here in Alberta and we’re now seeing its tragic toll. One Albertan death is too many and this week we have the unfortunate responsibility of confirming five,” said Dr. Gerry Predy, AHS Senior Medical Officer of Health. “If that isn’t enough to encourage immunization, the upswing in hospitalizations is yet further evidence of the very real severity of influenza.”
Of the five deaths confirmed in the weekly update released today, two were in the AHS Calgary Zone and three in the Edmonton Zone. Four of the five deceased individuals 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. (For further details on these deaths, including age range and influenza strain associated with each case, please see attached backgrounder. For the full weekly update, please visit www.ahs.ca/influenza).
“Immunization saves lives. It’s readily available, safe and free of charge,” said Dr. Martin Lavoie, Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health, AH. “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. As of the report posted today, just more than 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 their local AHS influenza immunization clinic schedules online at www.ahs.ca/influenza, or by calling Health Link at 811.
Many pharmacists and physician offices are also still offering influenza immunization. Please note that children less than nine years of age must be immunized at an AHS immunization clinic. Pharmacists and physicians cannot immunize individuals less than nine years of age.
“Whether you’re doing it for yourself, for your family, or for your community: it’s the right reason,” said Predy. “We thank you for getting immunized and arming yourself for the influenza battle.”
Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.
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Shannon M. Evans