As the holiday season brings an increase in social gatherings, so too is there an increase in the potential for the spread of influenza and other illnesses. Alberta Health Services (AHS) issued a press release to remind Albertans to remember to get immunized against influenza. While there are currently no flu clinics scheduled, both Shoppers Drug Marts in Sylvan Lake offer the shot to Alberta residents 9 years or older.
This season over 958,000 influenza vaccines have been given to Albertans. While AHS considers this a good start, there is concern about the thousands who have not received their flu shots yet.
“As of the data posted November 30, we’ve already confirmed more than 1,100 cases of influenza in Alberta,” said Dr. Gerry Predy, AHS’ Senior Medical Officer of Health.
His says you may feel healthy now but in order ensure you stay healthy he says you need to be immunized.
“Keep in mind, good health isn’t contagious; influenza is,” he stated.
“In addition to getting immunized to reduce your risk of influenza, there are a number of steps you should always take to help prevent the spread of germs and illness,” says Dr. Predy.
Reminders for protecting your health
· Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when sneezing or coughing or cough/sneeze into your arm, not into your hands.
· Wash your hands thoroughly and often with soap and warm water after coughing, sneezing, using tissues or the washroom, and before eating or preparing foods.
· Keep your hands and fingers away from your eyes, nose and mouth.
· Refrain from preparing food for anyone while you’re sick.
· Stay home – from work, school, social obligations and visiting anyone in care facilities – when sick.
This last point is particularly important, says Dr. Predy.
“Your family and friends don’t want influenza or other illnesses any more than you do. If you’re sick, stay home from work, school, or any social function. Please also do not visit family, friends or loved ones in hospitals, care facilities or seniors lodges until you’ve fully recovered.”
The influenza vaccine is free of charge to all Albertans six months or older. Visit www.ahs.ca/influenza for information on local clinic schedules or call Health Link at 811. You can also receive the flu shot through many pharmacies and physician offices.