By Cassie Weiss
People are showing slight signs of panic as Alberta Health Services released a statement last week confirming five deaths from an H1N1 influenza outbreak.
With flu season in full swing, already 965 cases have been confirmed, 270 of which landed people in the hospital.
Although most residents may not have reached the clinics opened in the south region last weekend, they are still able to receive the flu vaccine by visiting their local pharmacy.
“We’ve been lined up with people looking to get their flu shot,” said Rob Hozack, pharmacist at the Redcliff Pharmasave.
“So far we’ve been able to handle [those looking for the vaccine].”
Set up at the Medicine Hat Community Health building, vaccinations are being given out by appointment, the entire week of Jan. 6, up until Monday, Jan. 13.
Reported in the larger cities that immunization clinics were the only option as doctors and pharmacies couldn’t keep up with the demand, Hozack doesn’t believe it will stay too busy for too long.
“Normally all the vaccines are done by now. This rush started yesterday morning. If I had known I would have booked more staff.”
Believing that in the next couple days the mass of customers will relax back to a regular pace, Hozack said the flu vaccine will protect those from H1N1, until the flu season falls away in the spring.
Not holding any immunization clinics in the areas surrounding Medicine Hat, except for Bow Island, the only option now for residents is to obtain their vaccine through the pharmacies.
“If you are sick we will have you wait until you are feeling better,” said Hozack. “The vaccine won’t work if you are sick.”
Stating that all is required is your Alberta Health Care Card, anyone is eligible for the H1N1 vaccine.
For more information on the outbreak, or on where to obtain a vaccine, visit http://www.albertahealthservices.ca.