Influenza has killed seven people and hospitalized dozens more in what Alberta’s health authority is characterizing as the official arrival of flu season.
Dr. Gerry Predy, the senior medical officer of health for Alberta Health Services, said flu activity, including outbreaks, is on the rise.
It’s a warning coupled with a reminder for Albertans to seek immunization.
“Cases we had seen initially were what we considered sporadic. This has now changed,” Predy said in a statement delivered to media Thursday morning.
The number of confirmed cases of influenza stood at 219 as of Nov. 15. Of those, 69 were serious enough to require hospitalization.
It was not immediately clear where the seven fatal cases were recorded, but AHS says there have been three confirmed outbreaks in November.
Alberta upped its vaccine supply this year to avoid the kind of shortages experienced in 2013.
The province purchased a little more than 2 million doses, about 700,000 more than last year.
Of those, about 926,500 doses have been administered thus far.
“While this is a good start, thousands of Albertans remain without protection,” AHS said in its statement.
“Uptake of influenza vaccine has been impressive so far, but we’re certainly not where we want to be yet,” Predy said.
“It takes two weeks after being immunized to be fully protected. With the virus already circulating, Albertans need to act now: get immunized to protect yourself and reduce the further spread of disease in our province.”
Albertans are urged to take the shot at immunization clinics, pharmacies or their doctor’s office.
For a complete list of AHS immunization clinics, visit www.albertahealthservices.ca/influenza or call Health Link Alberta at 1-866-408-5465.