News / Calgary

Alberta running out of H1N1 vaccine after getting world's last shipment

Alberta snagged the very last batch of flu vaccinations on the planet and it's unclear when — if ever — more is coming, the province's top doctor said Wednesday.

And with flu-fearing Albertans flocking to public clinics, the province expects its current supply to be depleted by Friday.

“Vaccine supplies are limited,” chief medical officer of health Dr. James Talbot told reporters. “We can predict that they will be mostly out by the end of this week.”

Earlier this week, Alberta was provided with 65,000 doses of the vaccine from an Italian manufacturer. To date, about one million Albertans — about one in four — have been vaccinated against influenza at a cost of $7.8 million to the province.

By the latest Alberta Health count, Calgary has had 456 lab-confirmed cases resulting in five local deaths. Most cases are reported to be the H1N1 strain of influenza — albeit a more tolerable version than the 2009 pandemic that killed more than 70 Albertans.

Talbot termed this year "a normal flu" season, although the peak is expected to hit later this month or by early February.

“Every flu season, health systems are stressed, hospitalization increase, ICU beds go into short supply and unfortunately, some Albertans die," he said.

As the supply of vaccine dries up, Talbot said the province is eyeing the next phase of flu prevention and officials will be promoting hand-washing and home rest when feeling ill.

“These are the kinds of things you can do to slow down transmission, prevent transmission and make sure there isn’t any stress on the healthcare system.”

Health Minister Fred Horne said while there are still injections available, Alberta Health Services will be operating immunization clinics throughout the province.

“We expect the remaining supply will take us through this week so those clinics are expected to operate,” he said.

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