Local residents are urged to get their annual flu shots at free drop-in clinics scheduled to start in the Stettler area next week.
Drop-in clinics for influenza immunization are set for Stettler, Big Valley, Donalda and Halkirk.
Alberta Health Services has specifically scheduled clinics for:
— Stettler Community Hall on Oct. 16 and 17, Nov. 14 and 15 and Dec. 13, each day from 1 to 7 p.m. For more information, phone 403-820-6004.
— Donalda Seniors’ Centre on Nov. 1, from 10 a.m. to noon.
— Big Valley Seniors’ Drop-in Centre on Nov. 2, from 10 a.m. to noon.
— Halkirk village office on Nov. 6, from 10 a.m. to noon.
“Fall means the start of flu season,” Health Minister Fred Horne said in a news release. “Getting the flu shot is a no-cost, safe and highly effective way to prevent illness and stay healthy this year.
“I hope all Albertans will take the time to protect themselves and their families by getting immunized.”
Similar to last year, the influenza vaccine will be offered free of charge to all Albertans six months of age and older.
The vaccine will be available through public immunization clinics, as well as through some pharmacists and physician offices.
A nasal spray vaccine (FluMist) will also be available for the first time this year, targeted toward eligible children between two and 17 years old.
“As the single most effective means of protecting oneself from influenza infection and illness, annual immunization is an important part of every Albertans’ fall routine,” Dr. James Talbot. Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, said in a news release.
“We call it an annual immunization for a reason: the virus is continually changing, and to maintain your immunity and be protected for the season ahead, you need to be immunized every year.”
While immunization is recommended for all Albertans, individuals at high risk for severe complications related to influenza (including children between the ages of six and 23 months, anyone over 65 years of age, pregnant women, and individuals with chronic medical conditions, including severe obesity) are encouraged to be immunized as soon as possible.
“Health-care workers are also a very important group to be immunized, especially those of us who are in regular contact with patients,” Dr. Talbot said.
To learn more about influenza illness, immunization and this year’s program, visit albertahealthservices.ca.