It's still early, but there are indications this could be a bad winter for the flu.
Some 1,150 cases have been confirmed in Alberta since the end of August; 320 people were sent to hospital with influenza and at least five deaths are blamed on the disease so far.
"We are prepared based on what we see in the southern hemisphere, how the Australia experience was," explained Dr. Mohammad Mosli, Medical Officer of Health for Alberta Health Services (AHS) Central Zone. "We base our preparations and our planning for the upcoming flu season and what to expect based on what we saw there."
Australia saw more than 93,000 cases during their winter, our summer, about 2 1/2 times the previous year's infections, which Dr. Mosli thinks is an excellent reason to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
"So far, the vaccine strain seems to be a good match," he told 99.5 Drum FM. "Whether the vaccine itself will be as effective as we hope for it to be is something that can only be determined in hindsight."
Just under 959,000 doses of vaccine had been administered in Alberta by the end of November. That's over 200,000 fewer than during the last flu season in 2016/17. Dr. Mosli doesn't understand it.
"Getting the flu shot is protective in more than one way," he pointed out. "It's not only about protecting you from getting sick or not, but there are others (diseases) that, although it's not in the vaccine, the vaccine also helps your body fight them off."
Free influenza vaccine shots are available at any local pharmacy. You may have to call them first to make an appointment.
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