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Province steps up its fight against influenza

Jan 07, 2014 11:00 am | Janice Huser

Alberta Health Services continues to encourage Albertans to get this year’s annual influenza vaccine, as cases of H1N1 are being confirmed across the province.

Dr. Kathryn Koliaska, one of the medical officers of health for the North Zone, says the province is seeing an upswing in the numbers of lab confirmed cases of influenza lately, but those numbers are “typical” for this time of the year.

What makes this season different is that “it’s a different strain than it was last year” and the fact that H1N1 is circulating is an “interesting twist.” She adds that it seems as though more children and otherwise healthy adults are getting sick with influenza also.

Koliaska explains that symptoms of H1N1 are similar to other strains of influenza, and can include coughing, fever, chills, muscle aches, and often will “knock you into your bed for a week.” Symptoms can also be gastrointestinal.

She says that with other illnesses also circulating in the winter months, influenza is one thing you can protect yourself against by getting a vaccinated. Along with getting the vaccine, Koliaska also recommends sticking to the basics to prevent the spread of the flu, such as covering your mouth when you cough, washing your hands, and staying home when sick.

As a way to deal with the flu, the province has added influenza clinics to many communities in the province. St. Paul will have clinics on Jan. 8, Jan. 13, Jan. 14, Jan. 16, and Jan. 17 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at St. Paul Community Health Services, located at 5610 50 Ave.

“Albertans aged six months and older can drop-in to these clinics, without appointments, during opening hours and received the free immunization,” says a release from AHS.

H1N1 is one of the components in this year’s influenza vaccine, according to the release. Those who have received influenza vaccines last season should get this season’s vaccine.

An immunization clinic will also be held in Elk Point on Jan. 9 from 1 to 4 p.m. at Elk Point Community Health Services, located at 5310 50 Ave.

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