By Nikki Jamieson
Westwind Weekly News
AHS is urging people to get a flu shot this year.
In a statement to Southern Alberta Newspapers, AHS stressed that influenza is serious, and immunization is the single most effective means of arming yourself, and your children, against influenza.
“This year our health system will need to respond to both COVID-19 and influenza. By keeping the number of influenza cases and outbreaks low, we can help protect at-risk Albertans and seniors, who are more likely to need medical care including in a hospital,” reads the statement.
COVID-19 has similar symptoms to the flu and other respiratory illnesses, such as fever, new onset of cough or worsening of chronic cough, new or worsening shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, sore throat and a runny nose.
As these symptoms are similar, AHS says that anyone who develops them needs to stay home and away from others, and complete the AHS online self-assessment and book a test for COVID-19.
“After receiving influenza immunization, some individuals can develop fever, cough, runny nose or sore throat as possible side effects from the immunization. The possible side effects from influenza immunization are short term and could last one to two days/24-48 hours after immunization,” reads the statement.
“Again, because these side effects are similar to symptoms of COVID-19, you must stay home and away from others if you develop these symptoms. Children will have to stay home with a parent or guardian. If the symptoms resolve within 48 hours after onset, individuals can return to normal activities, unless they have been instructed to quarantine or isolate for other reasons. If symptoms persist longer than 48 hours, individuals should continue to stay home, contact Health Link at 811 or complete the COVID-19 online self-assessment tool for testing. If testing is not done, you should remain at home for 10 days or until symptoms resolve, whichever is longer.”
In Alberta, those aged six months and older can be immunized against the flu for free, and this year’s influenza immunization campaign will begin on Oct. 19.
AHS will offer the vaccine through its public health clinics to children under five years of age and their family and household members, individuals who do not have a provincial health care number and individuals who live in a community where there are no other immunizing health care providers.
All Albertans who do not meet those criteria will be able to receive vaccine through pharmacists or physicians.
Those eligible to receive the shot through AHS are asked to please book an appointment through an online booking tool that launched on Oct. 13. There will be no drop-in immunizations at AHS locations. Those going to a pharmacy or physician office are asked to call ahead for details on their influenza immunization program.
Those with questions about booking your influenza immunization are asked to call Health Link at 811.
People are asked to wear a face mask and practice physical distancing when going for their immunization, and AHS asks that you do not go to get immunized if you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, and to isolate at home, complete the AHS online self-assessment and book a test for COVID-19.
AHS reminds people to wash your hands often, practice good respiratory etiquette, stay home when sick, and practice social distancing.
“Physical distancing is also important as it can prevent more than COVID-19 – it can help prevent influenza too.”
For more information, visit http://www.ahs.ca/influenza, or call Health Link at 811.
The self-assessment tool is available at myhealth.alberta.ca/journey/covid-19/Pages/COVID-Self-Assessment.aspx