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Influenza season arrives

October 25, 2017

The 2017/18 influenza season has officially arrived in Alberta. As of Monday, Albertans were eligible to receive the influenza vaccine through Alberta Health Services (AHS) clinics, physicians, and, of course, pharmacies.

Last season, over 1.1 million Albertans, representing 27 per cent of the province’s population, received the influenza vaccine. Nearly half of those immunized (530,000) received the vaccine from a pharmacist. This season, AHS has set a goal to immunize 35 per cent of Albertans from influenza, so it could be an even busier season for pharmacists with authorization to administer drugs by injection.

According to AHS, the 2016/17 influenza season was of “average intensity” with the rate of illness highest among seniors (Age 65-79), the elderly (Age 80 ), and infants under the age of one year. Nearly 10,000 Albertans visited emergency departments or urgent care centres due to influenza, which was the lowest rate in the last five seasons. Of the 1,653 Albertans hospitalized due to influenza last season, 109 were admitted to intensive care units, with 54 passing away.

This season, AHS predicts Influenza A(H3N2) will be the predominant strain. AHS says Influenza A(H3N2) predominant seasons are usually earlier and more severe than others.

AHS is making the following two influenza vaccines available in Alberta for the 2017/18 season:

1. Fluzone® ‐ quadrivalent vaccine for individuals 6 months of age and older including pregnant women.

2. Fluad® ‐ trivalent vaccine available for individuals 65 years of age and older who reside in congregate living facilities.

For more information on becoming authorized to administer drugs by injection, visit the ACP webpage.

Originally published in the October 25, 2017, issue of The Link