Alberta reported five more deaths related to the H1N1 virus Monday, bringing the total to 25 deaths since the start of the outbreak in April.
Two of the latest deaths were in the Edmonton region, two in southern Alberta and one in Calgary. One of the people who died was over 65, said Dr. Gerry Predy, the senior medical officer of health for Alberta Health Services. Two were between 45 and 64 and the remaining two were between 20 and 29.
"All of the people who died did have some underlying risk factors," Predy said.
Children's chronic health conditions include:
- Obesity (BMI over 30).
- Chronic kidney disease, including need for dialysis.
- Asthma requiring medication (such as an inhaler).
- Other chronic lung conditions, such as cystic fibrosis, which require ongoing treatment.
- Congenital heart abnormality.
- Neurological disorders, including cerebral palsy, epilepsy and other seizure disorders, as well as those associated with difficulty swallowing and managing respiratory secretions.
- Down syndrome and other developmental-delay conditions that affect managing respiratory secretions.
- Congenital or acquired immune deficiency, including taking medications that suppress the immune system.
- Any disorder requiring ongoing ASA (Aspirin) treatment.
- Anemia or hemoglobinopathy.
- Chronic liver disease.
Children under 10 in group living facilities are also eligible.
Source: Alberta Health Services
The number of cases of swine flu that required hospital care sits at 546, up 66 since the province's last report Friday.
According to Predy, about one-third of the province's intensive care beds are now being occupied by patients with swine flu.
"It's stressing the hospital system, but again as part of our plan we do have the capability of increasing our ICU capacity as necessary."
Some services could be delayed or postponed if it becomes necessary, Predy said.
On Tuesday, Alberta will expand its vaccination program to children under 10 with chronic health conditions and parents or caregivers of babies under six months of age.
Parents are asked to provide proof of age and, if applicable, prescriptions or other documentation of their child's chronic health condition.
National vaccine shortages prompted the Alberta government to temporarily suspend its vaccination program a little over a week ago. Last Thursday, clinics opened to vaccinate children more than six months old and under five years of age.
The next day, pregnant women were able to start receiving vaccinations. About 450,000 Albertans have been vaccinated since the program started Oct. 26.
It is not known when vaccination programs will be expanded to include other high-risk groups, because it depends on the national vaccine supply.
Alberta is receiving a shipment of 237,000 doses of vaccine on Thursday, said Dr. André Corriveau, Alberta's chief medical officer of health.
Right now, the province has about 200,000 doses on hand.