The flu season has returned once again, and Albertans are being urged to get their influenza immunization.
“I think what people need to realize is that there's very similar symptoms between COVID and influenza, but they are two different diseases,” said Becky Perrin, pharmacist at Mint Health and Drugs in Beaverlodge.
“To get both the COVID vaccine and the influenza vaccine is important.”
Influenza vaccinations are free of charge and available at participating pharmacies and Alberta Health Services’ public health clinics.
Perrin says they are accepting appointments at the pharmacy as well as walk-ins.
The pharmacy can administer the seasonal flu vaccine to anyone age 5 and over; they will need to bring their Alberta Health Card. For younger children, vaccines can be had at a public health clinic and be booked at bookvaccine.alberta.ca.
“Recent studies and reviews have confirmed it is safe for people to get their influenza vaccine at the same time as their COVID-19 vaccine, so there is no need to delay either of the immunizations,” the province said in a media release.
“I know intensive care unit (ICU) physicians would say that one of the biggest reason for being admitted to ICU would be things like influenza or complications from influenza, and that is something that can be prevented,” said Perrin.
The ICUs around the province have recently faced capacity limits and had to transfer patients to other facilities, including from the QEII Hospital.
“ICU hospitalizations can be prevented with the vaccine,” said Perrin.
Last year 37 per cent of Albertans got their influenza vaccination, compared to 33 per cent in the previous year.
Alberta has no lab confirmed influenza cases and no flu related deaths in 2020/21 influenza season, according to the province.
Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News