“The annual influenza, or flu, season is here. Albertans are encouraged to get their flu shots and take steps to help reduce the spread of influenza.
“Winter is historically the peak season for respiratory infections. Like other jurisdictions, Alberta is seeing an early rise in seasonal infections including influenza, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and COVID-19, and is expecting a severe season.
“The influenza season in Australia often predicts the type of season we will see in Canada. This year, Australia had a severe respiratory virus season.
“In Australia, the highest rates of influenza disease were in children and teenagers, and children under 16 years of age accounted for the majority of influenza hospitalizations. Influenza can also have a severe impact on the elderly.
“While most children, youth and adults recover from the flu without complications, some can get very sick and need to be treated in hospital.
“We can expect to see similar outcomes in Alberta. Over the last few weeks, Alberta has seen an increase in reports of symptoms such as cough and fever in schools and daycares. We are monitoring the situation in schools closely.
“The province continues to transition back to longstanding practices to manage respiratory infections in general. That includes local public health officials notifying schools of outbreaks and giving them advice and support as needed.
“Transmission levels will fluctuate over time and between communities. We encourage Albertans to judge their risk at any point in time and take appropriate precautions.
“I encourage Albertans to take simple, daily actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:
- Stay home when feeling sick.
- Make the choice to stay up to date on your vaccinations, and speak to a physician or other care provider if you have questions about options.
- Wearing a well-fitting, high-quality mask can help reduce the risk of becoming sick and help protect others from being exposed. Albertans should be supported regardless of their choice to mask or not.
- If possible, avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Regularly clean hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizer or wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Maintain good respiratory etiquette by covering coughs and sneezes.
- Avoid or limit time spent in crowded indoor places.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items at home, especially when someone in your home is sick."
Booking immunization appointments
Influenza and COVID-19 vaccines are available at participating pharmacies and community medical clinics, and select AHS sites. Bookings are available through the Alberta Vaccine Booking System at alberta.ca/vaccine or by calling Health Link at 811.
Some pharmacies can accommodate walk-ins. If your local pharmacy is not listed in the booking system, contact them directly or visit bluecross.ca to find a pharmacy near you.
Individuals who live on a First Nations reserve can access immunization appointments through nursing stations or public health clinics on-reserve.
- Influenza typically begins with a sudden onset of fever, body aches, headache and fatigue. Most healthy people will recover from influenza in seven to 10 days, but it can take a couple of weeks to fully recover.
- Influenza statistics are available at alberta.ca/influenza and are updated weekly through the season.
- RSV is one of the most common viral infections of childhood, especially during the colder months. While not considered a risk to the general public, almost all children will have an RSV infection by the time they are two years of age.
- For many kids, RSV symptoms look like a common cold. For others, including young babies or children with lung diseases or weakened immune systems, symptoms can be more severe and lead to bronchiolitis or pneumonia.