AHS still recommending Albertans get the flu shot
Although this winterís cold and flu season started early and is now well underway, it isnít too late for those who have yet to get a flu shot to do so, according to Alberta Health Services.
Dr. Kathryn Koliaska, the medical officer of health for Alberta Health Services, North Zone, is still encouraging people to go get the flu shot, and says this yearís vaccine is a very good match to the majority of the flu strains that are circulating.
She explains that there is certainly more than one influenza strain out there making people sick, but this seasonís vaccine covers three of the strains and is nearly a perfect match for them.
ďItís not too late to get the flu shot,Ē says Koliaska. Along with getting the influenza vaccine, people should also be sure to eat right, exercise regularly and get enough sleep to help fight off the flu.
Koliaska says that even if someone has already had the flu but hasnít received the flu shot, it isnít unreasonable to get the vaccine and ensure protection against those strains.
The flu shot of course is ďthe one best thingĒ to prevent the flu, but washing hands after touching public areas is also a good habit to keep, along with keeping your hands away from your face, says Koliaska.
And of course, if a person does get sick, Koliaska encourages them to stay home to prevent spreading the flu. Coughing and sneezing into your sleeve instead of your hands is also a good habit to practice.
Although AHS does not have statistics available for specific hospitals, she says that a total of 1,459 cases of influenza have been lab-confirmed in Alberta this season, as of last week. Of those cases, 126 were in the North Zone.
From Jan. 6 to 12, 20 per cent of the total cases were confirmed, which means the province was probably at its peak for flu season last week. One of the problems with being at the peak of flu season is that itís hard to predict how long that peak will last, and if that peak is near the middle of flu season or at the end of flu season, says Koliaska.
This yearís flu shot covers three different strains of influenza. Two are Influenza A and the third is Influenza B. The majority of the strains being seen are covered by the shot. The vaccine does take up to two weeks to take effect after being injected.
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