With vaccination clinics closed, experts offer tips on how to stay healthy 

flushot thumb copyAfter over 1 million Albertans were immunized in the 2013 flu season, vaccines across the province ran out this January.

Specifically, Calgary vaccinations ran out on Jan. 10 — and mass clinics closed that evening at 6:30 p.m., and will not reopen this season, an Alberta Health Services press release states.

According to Alberta Health Services, this year has been one of the most successful years for immunization.

 But the organization is reporting over 2,200 confirmed cases of the flu, and 10 deaths, as of Jan. 16.

"Those most at risk for the flu are children under the age of five, adults over age 65, people with weakened immune systems, heart disease, diabetes and pregnant women," wrote Dr. Glen Armstrong in an email. Armstrong is a professor in the department of microbiology, immunology and infectious diseases at the U of C.

"It should be noted that these are risk factors for normal seasonal flu strains. The H1N1 strain, for some reason, hits people in the 20 to 50 age group hardest," writes Armstrong.

Though flu-vaccines are no longer being offered to the general public, a small amount of vaccines have been saved for children who require a second dose, and for potential outbreaks in healthcare centres.

In a Jan. 15 interview with the CBC, Dr. Chris Sikora said the province currently has no plans to reopen flu-shot clinics. Sikora is the chief medial officer of health for the Edmonton Zone, and said the province is about halfway through flu season. Flushot Pollock Final copyOver 1 million Albertans received flu vaccines this flu season.
Photo courtesy of Steven Depolo, Flickr.

So what should you do if you were unable to get the vaccine?

According to Dr. Armstrong, there are some simple things that can be done to help avoid getting the flu this season:

• Frequent hand washing
• Staying hydrated
• Exercising
• Eating healthy foods
• Getting out in the sun to boost vitamin D levels

Dr. Stephanie Andrews, a naturopathic doctor at Cambrian Pharmacy, wrote in an email that treating the flu, and preventing it, is dependent on several factors.

"Eating nutrient and anti-oxidant rich foods are critical to flu prevention," wrote Dr. Andrews

"Additionally, bone broth soup is an excellent way of maintaining hydration and electrolyte balance while fighting the flu," wrote Andrews.

Finally, Andrews said that anyone looking to stay flu-free should consider taking an ACES supplement, which is a vitamin mixture of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, Selenium and Zinc . 

Local mother Lee Symborski, says she has never received a flu vaccine, and has been using homeopathic methods for four years, for herself and her family.

"We take influenzinum for the length of the flu season and it's worked fine for me and my family," Symborski says.

 "We have to be smart consumers and do our homework," she says. 

"I know there's skepticism [about alternative methods], but there's also no harm in doing it."

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Are you for or against the flu vaccine?


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