Flu vaccine clinics in Alberta to open Oct. 15

Influenza vaccination clinics, free for Albertans six months of age and older, will open around the province starting Oct. 15.

Albertans 6 months of age and older can get vaccinated against influenza without charge

A four-strain injectable influenza vaccine will be offered in the 2018-19 flu season. (Tony Talbot/AP)

Influenza vaccination clinics, free for Albertans six months of age and older, will open around the province starting Oct. 15.

The province has expanded its immunization program in preparation for the 2018-19 flu season and will allow pharmacists to administer the flu shot to people aged five and up, stated a news release Monday.

Previously, pharmacists were only able to immunize people nine years of age and older.

Pharmacists and some physicians are also allowed to offer influenza immunization to residents and staff in supportive living facilities, said the release.

"It's important even for adult Albertans to get their annual flu shot," Dr. Kristin Klein, deputy medical officer of health, said in the release.

"When people get immunized, they protect not only themselves, but also people around them who may be more vulnerable, such as seniors, young children, pregnant women and those with existing health conditions," Klein said.

The  immunization rate for the 2017-18 flu season was 29 per cent, up slightly from 27 per cent in the previous year.

Just under 1.3 million doses of vaccine were administered last year.

The province has ordered 1.6 million doses of vaccine for this flu season at a cost of $12.6 million. The amount is enough to immunize 35 per cent of the population.

92 deaths last flu season

A four-strain injectable influenza vaccine produced by two manufacturers — Fluzone and Flulaval Tetra — will be offered.

In the last flu season, there were 92 deaths among hospitalized patients with laboratory-confirmed influenza. In total there were 9,609 lab-confirmed cases of influenza in Alberta in 2017-18.

The government is holding a news conference Monday afternoon to officially launch its flu immunization campaign.

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