Flu shots became available across the province on October 19, and pharmacists were overwhelmed by the public response to the vaccine.
Vaccines are being offered for free as usual, but Alberta Health Services is not providing them through major public health clinics this year. Health clinics are only available by appointment to children under the age of five and their families. Everyone else should be vaccinated at the pharmacy or through their doctor. This is being done to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Demand for this specialty has grown significantly as a result of recent corporate scandals, said Nicole Shetler, a pharmacist at Remedies RX.
“We were incredible this year. I’m given a total of 297 doses over the course of last year. We’re already over 350 this year,” she said.
Shetler said they have two reasons to watch the increase. Usually everyone who goes to the flu clinic is redirected to their offices and people are also looking for preventive measures in response to COVID-19.
“It’s a good tool in our toolbox. And then, with people having to stay home from work or school at the first sign of any kind of symptoms, they can at least hopefully reduce the chances of getting the flu, ”Shetler said. “And hopefully they will lose less work or school.”
The government has ordered 1.96 million doses of the vaccine, or 45 percent of the population, to be vaccinated this year. Last year, 33 percent of Alberts had immunity, or about 1.4 million.
The government is recommending that people be immunized to keep flu counts low.
“The flu shot does not prevent COVID-19, but it does reduce the chances of infecting others,” said Dr. Deena Hinsha, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.
The flu is an infectious respiratory disease caused by a virus that affects the nose, throat and lungs. It reduces the body’s ability to fight other infections and leads to other problems.
Influenza can be dangerous for seniors, children under the age of four, and those with compromised immunity. In Alberta, 1,595 people were hospitalized last year and 41 died of the flu virus.
The flu puts a lot of stress on the health care system and makes it unnecessarily stressful.
“The flu is still a big public health problem, and I think it’s often overlooked. This year, apparently, we really need to keep the capacity open in our hospitals so that COVID or other emergencies can be dealt with,” Shetler said.
There are a few things people need to know when taking the vaccine, Shetler explained. Children less than nine years of age and children who have not been vaccinated before receiving two shots for at least eight weeks.
Year pharmacists are not offering publicly funded nasal spray vaccines this year, but families can pay out of pocket for the spray. High-dose vaccines are usually not available because they are reserved for long-term care facilities.
Shetler said the shot they were offering, although not overdose, was still an excellent vaccine.
“It protects against the influenza strain that children are most likely to transmit,” she explained. “So, in some ways, even though it’s not a high – dose vaccine, it’s better in some cases than a high – dose vaccine.”
The flu shot is good for about a year and the effect increases two months after immunization, so people are encouraged to get the shot in October in preparation for the holiday.
Shetler said that even if you already have the flu, you still need to be immunized because there are so many different strains. She said it was also possible to catch the flu after receiving the shot.
“It’s usually a mild illness with fewer problems,” Shetler said. “Even if you have a flu shot in the past and the flu comes, it’s still better than not having a flu shot. Because it makes a kind of preparation for your body to deal with. And in general, the intensity is very low. ”
The flu shot is not the only way to prevent flu illness. Hinsha recommends the use of well-known methods during the epidemic to prevent the spread of the flu virus.
“Washing your hands frequently, covering up coughs and sneezes and staying home when you are sick is also very important when gaining immunity,” Hinsha said.