Cases of Influenza A across Northern Alberta have already exceeded totals of each of the last two years, in part due to a different strain of flu.
In previous seasons, the strain known as H3-N2 was the more dominant one, which is typically harder on older adults.
As pointed out by Alberta Health Services’ Medical Officer for Health in the North Zone, Dr. Albert de Villiers, this year’s strain is the H1-N1, which has more of an effect on children.
“It’s the same strain we had during 2009 and 2010. At that time, they called it the pandemic strain. The good news is that this year the vaccine that we’ve got is a very good match for this specific H1-N1 strain, so it seems to be good protection.”
As of January 3, 1,021 cases of Influenza A had been reported in the North Zone since the start of November of 2018. That’s up from 818 cases from October 2017 to April 30, 2018. One death had been reported by AHS in the North Zone from the flu, while 106 people had been hospitalized.
Though this year’s strain is tougher on kids, de Villiers does urge all members of the public to go out and get vaccinated.
“Unless you live in a bubble somewhere, we all have contact with other people.
Even if you don’t have contact with kids and elderly, other people might.” He explained. “With influenza specifically, you can be sharing it with other people two or three days before you show any symptoms. That’s why it is important to be preventative, and everybody gets their vaccine because we all live in the community together.”
Any Albertan six months of age and older can be administered a free influenza vaccine at public health clinics and doctor’s offices until the end of March. Pharmacies are also able to provide the vaccine to Albertans five years of age and older.
“It’s never too late to come for this season. Get it as soon as possible while you can still protect yourself” said de Villiers.
He also recommends washing your hands regularly, covering your cough, and staying home when you are sick to help prevent the spread of the disease.
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