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Hinshaw urging Albertans to get their flu shot this year

Last Updated Oct 19, 2020 at 8:01 am MDT

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — Alberta’s top doctor is urging Albertans to roll up their sleeves Monday and get their flu shots this year.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw wants to limit emergency visits and hospitalizations from influenza as the province continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Influenza is not new like COVID-19 but it is very serious,” Hinshaw said.

“The more that we can avoid influenza-related tests, emergency visits, and hospitalizations, the stronger our system will be to support those with COVID-19 and all other health needs.”

Hinshaw said about 8,500 Albertans contracted the flu last winter, resulting in 41 people deaths.

One in three Albertans were immunized for influenza last year, an increase from 2018/19. Hinshaw says the province must do better this year.

“The flu shot won’t prevent COVID-19, but it will reduce your chances of getting sick with influenza and spreading it to others,” she said.

Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist Amani Chehade said the reason it’s important to get the shot this year is you don’t want your body attacked by the flu and COVID-19 at the same time or while you’re recovering from either one.

“This year is not the year to miss out on a flu shot. The fall season is coming and there is a second wave coming of COVID. You don’t want your body to be attacked by the two viruses at the same time. There is no vaccine for COVID now but at least there is vaccine for the flu.”

A recent survey showed many people believe the misconception that if they haven’t had COVID yet, it’s not as important to get a flu shot.

Chehade explained, that’s not the case, and nobody should let their guard down and skimp out on the vaccine this year.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) is offering vaccines through pre-booked appointments only to children under five years of age and their family and household members.

Alberta has ordered 1.96 million doses of the influenza vaccine.