Province orders record amount of influenza vaccine

Photo by CDC

The crisis caused by COVID-19 has had an unprecedented effect on public health and while we are by no means yet in the clear, there are additional factors this fall offering complications.

The annual flu season brings with it a score of health issues, often worsening pre-existing health conditions. In conjunction with COVID-19, the province is taking additional precautions to help protect vulnerable populations.

“Alberta has ordered a record amount of the influenza vaccine in light of the pandemic and an expected increase in Albertans wanting to be immunized,” wrote Tom McMillan — assistant director of communications for Alberta Health — in a statement to the Kerby News.

“We have ordered 23 per cent more than last year. For the upcoming season, Alberta Health ordered 1.96 million doses of influenza vaccine compared to 1.6 million doses in 2019-2020.”

McMillan said immunization is the most effective way to prevent diseases and potential complications that may result. 

“By keeping the number of influenza cases and outbreaks low, we can help protect at-risk Albertans and seniors and allow health care workers to keep focusing on the COVID-19 response.”

Health practitioners will start offering vaccines to vulnerable populations as soon as it is received. McMillan said these will begin by Oct. 13, at the very latest.

The provincial wide campaign for all Albertans on Oct. 19, with more information to be available in early October. This influenza inoculation is for the more commonly experienced strains of the flu. There is no current vaccination for the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

According to the World Health Organization, while they believe COVID-19 does not necessarily transfer as efficiently as common influenza strains, it is much more severe in terms of ramifications to one’s health. In terms of symptoms, there are a few differences between the two.

Alberta Health Services advises that symptoms of fatigue, aches and pains are more common with influenza compared to COVID-19. Shortness of breath is a symptom that’s associated specifically with COVID-19 rather than influenza, as well. Some of the best practices to help prevent both the spread of COVID-19 and influenza include physical distancing, mask-wearing, consistent hand washing and to disinfect commonly touched surfaces.

The provincial government recommends staying home and completing an online assessment if you believe you might be infected with COVID-19. Individuals can also call 811 for a health assessment and referral if they are concerned about their symptoms.

Testing for COVID is now available for all Albertans and can be booked online at, or by calling 811.”During this pandemic, it is particularly important that all Albertans take care of their health and well-being,” McMillan said in the AHS statement. “This year, our health system will need to respond to both COVID-19 and influenza disease.”