Albertans urged to get flu shots to fight H1N1 surge
Only 21% of Albertans, 49% of health-care workers have been immunized
Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne says too few people have gotten flu shots in light of a recent surge of cases of the illness, notably the H1N1 strain.
As of New Year's Day, there were 965 lab-confirmed cases of flu, 920 of them H1N1. Five patients died while in the intensive-care unit, and 251 people have been sick enough to be admitted to hospital.
However, only 21 per cent of Albertans and 49 per cent of health-care workers have had flu shots.
Horne is urging people to get immunized.
“So the number, while it has gone up and we’re seeing lots of interest in the last couple of weeks, we are by no means at a point where we are protected as a population from influenza and particularly H1N1," he said.
Alberta Health Services, the provincial board that runs the health system, has been asked to publish immunization rates for staff at each facility.
On Friday, there were long lineups outside flu vaccination clinics as they reopened in Edmonton.
People had to stand outside at the Bonnie Doon clinic because there was no room inside. Staff were giving newcomers tickets and asking them to come back later.
Clinics in Calgary had similar lineups when they reopened on Thursday. People were waiting at least 45 minutes to get into the clinic at the Brentwood Mall.
In Edmonton, Kirby Kelly expressed frustration that more clinics weren't open.
"As far as I know, there's just two, right now," she said. "It's unfortunate that everybody south of here is going to be landing here."
In response to the demand, AHS plans to add a new clinic at the Northgate Centre in Edmonton from 9 to 3 p.m.
Pharmacies and doctors' offices also offer the flu shot. However, pharmacies aren't allowed to give the vaccine to children under nine years old.