Health workers without flu shots sent home from Foothills hospital after outbreak

Calgary's Foothills hospital is isolating flu patients and is excusing non-immunized staff from work to prevent an outbreak from spreading through the facility.

Flu patients isolated after illness hits facility

Alberta Health Services says its policy is to exclude staff who have not been immunized from work when there is an outbreak. (Mike Spenrath/CBC)

Calgary`s Foothills hospital is asking non-immunized staff to stay away from work after an outbreak of influenza at the facility. 

Dr. Judy MacDonald, a Calgary zone medical officer with Alberta Health Services, says patients with the flu are being kept in isolation and non-vaccinated staff are being asked not to come to work.

"If we have unimmunized staff — no matter where they work — if they are providing care in that outbreak facility then they are excluded from work unless they take antivirals to protect the people that they are providing care for," she said. 

MacDonald also says members of the public should avoid visiting hospitals or care homes if they are ill. 

The dominant flu strain this season is H3N2, known to be virulent to the elderly — something the numbers support this year.

The average age of the 390 Albertans hospitalized with the flu is 68 compared with 52 last year.

Of the 23 deaths so far this season, the average age is 87 compared with 74 last year. On average, between 30 and 40 people die from the flu by season’s end.

Compounding the problem for seniors this season is that the vaccine is only a partial match for the dominant strain. 

The good news is that more than 1.7 million Albertans, or 29 per cent, received the flu shot this winter — about one-third more than last year.

Upcoming flu immunization clinics:


* ​​​​For complete clinic schedules, visit the Alberta Health Services influenza website or call Health Link Alberta toll-free at 1-866-408-LINK(5465).


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