Alberta to unveil ambitious flu campaign

CALGARY – ‘Get It Before You Need It.’ That’s the name of this year’s flu campaign Alberta Health Services will be rolling out in less than three weeks.

With the start of the flu season just around the corner, AHS wants a record number of Albertans to get their shot.

The goal is to vaccinate 45 per cent of the population – almost double the number that got a flu shot last season when the immunization rate reached 27 per cent.

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It’s an ambitious goal, but provincial health officials believe it can be achieved.

To ensure everyone who wants a shot, gets one, Alberta Health Services has ordered 2 million doses.

Last season, it faced a shortage with just 1.2 million doses.

That led to long line-ups at designated clinics across the province.

HEALTH CARE WORKERS URGED TO GET THEIR SHOTS

A key component of the strategy this season will be to significantly boost the number of health-care workers who get the shot.

Only 55 per cent were vaccinated last season – Alberta Health Services wants to increase that number to 80 per cent or higher.

Alberta’s senior medical health officer says making sure health-care workers are protected will go a long way to preventing overcrowding in hospitals.

“It can be a very serious illness and lead to death and hospitalization,” says Dr. Gerry Predy. “It puts a lot of pressure on our hospitals and emergency departments.”

“People can not only protect themselves, but protect others in the community.”

Health workers are also under pressure from the federal National Advisory Committee on Immunization to make sure they’re immunized.

The organization says failure to do so implies failure in their duty of care to patients.

strongly suggests that health workers get flu shots, saying that refusal to be immunized implies failure in their duty of care to patients.

Dr. Predy says the province plans to honour staff who get their shots as “flu champions”.

But what if the voluntary approach doesn’t work?

In that event, Dr. Predy says the province will consider following B-C’s lead by requiring health-care workers to either get a flu shot or wear a mask while working.

“Part of our messaging to our staff is it is part of their duty of care to patients. We are stressing to our staff our objective is that no patient should get influenza from one of our staff. That is something that is just not acceptable.”

The “Get it Before You Need It” campaign will include a media blitz later this month.

Bus ads are already out and carry the slogan “Keep The Past Where It Belongs”.

“GET IT BEFORE YOU NEED IT”

  • Campaign starts October 20
  • Flu shots are FREE
  • Will be available at public health clinics, many pharmacies and doctors’ office

© Shaw Media, 2014

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