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Minister encourages Albertans to get a flu shot

Today Health Minister Fred Horne issued the following statement:

“Over the past few weeks, we have seen a surge in the number of influenza cases across Alberta. Many of those affected are healthy young adults. This year's predominant strain is H1N1.

“As of January 1, there have been 965 lab-confirmed cases. In addition, 251 Albertans have been hospitalized due to influenza, and sadly, 5 Albertans admitted to the ICU have died. While these numbers are similar to those from last year, it is concerning that we are seeing younger working age adults being hospitalized.

“Today, I ask every Albertan who has not received a flu shot to get one. Flu shots are free, and easily available through doctors’ offices, most pharmacies and AHS flu clinics. Getting immunized protects you, your friends, family, co-workers and everyone you come into contact with. That includes vulnerable Albertans for whom the flu can mean serious illness or even death.

“So far this flu season, only one in five Albertans (21 per cent) and about half of health care workers (49 per cent) received the flu shot. These rates are too low to adequately protect Albertans, their families and communities. In some parts of the province, influenza is starting to clog emergency rooms, limit access to hospital beds, and put strain on other health care resources.

“As an additional measure, and to increase protection for patients and health care staff, I have directed Alberta Health Services to publish staff immunization rates achieved at our individual health facilities.

“Our government has made every effort to make the flu shot easily available to all Albertans. Thank you to every Albertan who has taken the time to get the flu shot this year, and I urge all who have not to take a few moments to do so as soon as possible.”

Editors Note: Health Minister Fred Horne, Dr. Martin Lavoie, Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health, and Dr. Gerry Predy, AHS’ senior medical officer of health will be available to speak to the media at 10 a.m. today at the Shoppers Drug Mart at 584 Riverbend Square, Edmonton.

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