When the flu season hits Canada, there’s a different combination of viruses every year.
But when lives are at stake, a southern Alberta physician says, there’s no point debating whether this year’s viruses are worse than a year ago.
“Those predictions are very hard to make,” says Dr. Lena Derie Gillespie, a medical officer of health in the health administration’s South Zone.
“But we know it’s coming, and we know it can be bad.”
That’s why all Albertans over six months of age are offered a free flu shot this fall, as they have since 2009.
Albertans die of the flu every year, she points out.
As a family physician, Gillespie says, she sees how sick some people become after catching the easily spread illness.
“Some of them have long-lasting complications.”
With clinics open across the province, Gillespie says she’s pleased at the public response so far.
“I’ve seen families coming in, to make sure their kids are protected.”
But too many are staying away, she admits. Less than 30 per cent of the people across southern Alberta were vaccinated against the flu last year — about the lowest rate in the province.
As more people take that precaution, she points out, the “herd effect” of vaccination helps to protect those who can’t get the shot, for whatever reason.
Seniors may be at greater risk, Gillespie notes — and fortunately, many of them make a point of getting vaccinated as soon as possible.
“Maybe they understand what the stakes are.”
18 months for child porn
A 27-year-old Lethbridge man caught with thousands of child pornographic images is going to spend the next several months in jail.
John Philip Tulloch was sentenced Wednesday in Lethbridge provincial court to 18 months behind bars, followed by three years probation. While the Crown recommended that amount of time during a hearing in August, defence was hoping for no more than 12 months in jail.
During sentencing Wednesday, Judge Paul Pharo said he considered the mitigating factors of the case, including Tulloch’s relatively young age, his guilty plea to a single count of possession of child pornography, his lack of criminal record, his apparent remorse and his voluntary participation in counselling. Pharo also noted Tulloch lost his job and suffered other consequences of his actions after his case was reported in the media.
Cold winter ahead
The winter recreation season could arrive soon and last long, a weather service predicts.
But southern Albertans may also be facing cold snaps sooner than they expect.
Those are among long-term predictions issued this week by AccuWeather, a U.S. weather service that reports on many parts of the world.
“The abundance of snow that falls over the Rockies will benefit the ski resorts across the region, allowing them to remain open well into the spring,” it expects.
Waves of Arctic air will bring early snow to parts of Western Canada, forecasters say, with a greater impact on the eastern Prairies. But Vancouver and even Victoria could be seeing snow this winter, they add.
WCHS tops blood challenge
It’s in Winston Churchill High School students to give. And that’s exactly what they did, earning the school an award from Canadian Blood Services for donating the most units of blood locally in the 2016-17 Give Life High School Challenge.
The annual challenge engages schools in a friendly competition to recruit the most new donors and make the most blood donations. Last school year, a total of 239 high schools across Canada participated in the challenge, resulting in more than10,000 donations and 1,200 new donors.
WCHS won the challenge for the Lethbridge region, collecting 90 units of blood. Many people aren’t aware that blood donors as young as age 17 can be accepted.
“Students can donate starting at 17 years old, so having the exposure and hopefully making them lifelong donors is really important,” said Belinda Tomiyama, CBS territory manager. One of the special components of the program is it works through peer-on-peer recruitment.