Flu numbers are down but experts say Alberta not out of the woods
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Flu numbers are down but experts say Alberta not out of the woods

Last Updated Jan 25, 2019 at 3:53 pm MDT

A person gets a shot during a flu vaccine program in Calgary on Oct. 26, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Summary

Preliminary data within Alberta Health Services shows the vaccine has proven to be 70 per cent effective this year.

Officials want to see more than the usual 30 per cent who get the annual flu shot.

Medical Officer of Health warns we could see a second spike before health season is over.

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – The latest figures are out and while Calgary is seeing a drop in the number of flu cases, medical experts say we shouldn’t be complacent.

According to the latest figures, there have been 143 hospitalizations that involve lab-confirmed cases of influenza in the Calgary zone and nine have died.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jia Hu is hoping we’re more than halfway through the season but the city could be in for a second spike.

“We’re seeing a fewer number in cases this week compared to last week, there has been a general trend in declining cases since Alberta and Calgary peaked around November and December, that being said flu is still circulating in the community and people are still being hospitalized so it is very important for people who haven’t been immunized to be immunized,” said Hu.

He says the flu season can at times last until mid-spring and there could be a second spike before it’s over.

 

Preliminary figures have shown the vaccine they have been using is so far 70 per cent effective this year, which is a big boost from the 40 per cent number the year before.

“Most people can get the shot, anyone over the age of 6 months can get the shot but you getting the shot does protect others,” he said. “H1N1 has been affecting kids, young people disproportionately and I think all of the wants to make sure our kids are safe.”

He says 30 per cent of Albertans get the flu shot on any given year and they believe that’s pretty low.

“If we think about the immunization for childhood vaccines, you know like the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine or the vaccines against pertussis and tetanus, those are upwards of 90 per cent so those are the numbers that I would be hoping for flu but every year 30 per cent is a bit unfortunate so I would love to see those numbers got up a bit higher,” said Hu.

He adds it’s too hard to say how the city compares to other parts of the country given that Alberta tracks flu cases better than some other parts of the country.