Flu shots are now available in Lethbridge as vaccination clinics kicked off across Alberta on Monday.
Alberta Heath Services emphasizes the importance of getting the shot this year as health officials predict an increase in flu cases this winter.
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“This year, if it’s in the southern hemisphere — like Australia, for example — we could see significant flu cases,” said Dr. Vivien Suttorp, Alberta Southern Zone Medical Officer.
Suttorp says that after a few slower flu seasons, immunization this year is in the best interests of Alberta residents.
“We haven’t seen the flu in a few years — we haven’t been exposed to it,” she said. “It’s important for individuals to have a little bit of that leg with an immunization dose.”
AHS offers the flu vaccine through public health clinics, which are open to children under the age of five and their family members, people who do not have a state health number, and individuals who live in communities where there are no other immunizing providers.
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The Lethbridge Soup Kitchen hosted a vaccination clinic on site Monday for the city’s most vulnerable residents. Medicine Shoppe pharmacist Vishal Sukhadiya said it’s important to make the injection easily accessible to all residents of Lethbridge – even if they don’t know about it.
“Because of the lack of education, it is difficult to convince them, but they are the most vulnerable group,” Sukhadiya said. “When they get the flu, they’re the ones who end up in the hospital because of their lowered immune systems due to a number of underlying medical conditions.”
AHS said this year’s flu shot will have a wide range of coverage.
“The vaccine this year contains four different types of flu strains,” Suttorp said. “For seniors 65 and older, it’s a high-dose version where there’s a better immune response for seniors.”
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Albertans over the age of five can also be vaccinated at local pharmacies, and some doctors also offer flu shots.
AHS said COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters, could also be offered to eligible people at every booked flu vaccine appointment.
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