Last week, Alberta saw a 14-year record decline in the number of laboratory-confirmed influenza cases in a single week.
This record was set during the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic.
For the week ending December 9, there were 1,800 laboratory-confirmed influenza cases in the state, surpassing the previous record high of 1,778 during the week of October 25, 2009.
Influenza A (H1N1), which accounts for nearly 9 out of 10 cases, is driving this epidemic as we approach the end of the calendar year.
With Christmas gatherings just days away, there are some proven ways to prevent the flu from giving or receiving gifts.
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At the top of Dr. Daniel Gregson’s list is vaccination.
“That’s the most important thing,” said the University of Calgary assistant professor of infectious diseases. “This reduces the risk of contracting an infection by about half, and the risk of hospitalization by about half.”
Gregson also recommended using the day before dinners or other gatherings to avoid bringing in unwanted guests.
“You might think about other things we used to prevent infection in that week before the Christmas event, things other than medicines,” he said. “Avoiding crowds and going out in large groups while wearing a mask. These are all things you can do to reduce your risk during the holiday season.”
The Public Health Agency of Canada states that the use of respirators, such as NIOSH-certified N95s and certified KN95s, Helps prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)guidance consistent with what aerosol scientists are saying about airborne disease prevention.
“Another important thing is not to go if you’re sick,” Dr. Gregson says.
One pharmacist told Global News that supplies of influenza and COVID-19 vaccines are so high that many of his colleagues are able to help people on a walk-in basis.
Vishal Sukadaya, a Lethbridge pharmacist and medicine shop owner, likened vaccination to a first line of defense.
“Vaccines actually train our immune cells and train them how to fight real viruses. If they’re not trained, they can’t fight the virus accordingly,” he said.
“Surprisingly, flu vaccination rates this year are significantly lower than last year. So we’re seeing a lot of flu cases, and some patients are actually suffering from severe complications. There are several people.
“We encourage everyone to get vaccinated at their local pharmacy.”
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According to the prefecture’s dashboardOnly 22.1 per cent of Albertans have received a flu shot, the second lowest vaccination rate since 2009.
During the 2009-2010 influenza season (fall to fall), 36 per cent of Albertans were vaccinated by the end of May 2010.
That was after the World Health Organization declared swine flu a pandemic in 2009. A state report investigating the pandemic The researchers found record numbers in many populations, including high-risk populations and indigenous peoples, as public health officials administered far more flu shots using tactics like mass immunization clinics. He said the vaccination rate had been achieved.
It wasn’t until the 2020-21 flu season that Alberta surpassed the 2009-10 vaccination high water mark.
and According to the state dashboardThis flu season has resulted in 1,097 influenza hospitalizations, 132 intensive care unit admissions, and 34 deaths. The youngest death, an Albertan man in his 30s, was recorded this month.
The year of the swine flu pandemic, 64 Albertans have died from the disease.1,276 people were hospitalized, with 240 in the ICU.
Public health officials say it takes on average about two weeks for antibodies to develop after vaccination.
New formulations for influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations have been developed to address the strains most likely to be circulating this fall.
“It’s never too late to get the flu shot,” Gregson said, looking ahead to the Christmas holidays.
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