The same day vaccination clinics re-opened across the province, officials announced four more Albertans infected with the H1N1 virus have died.
“Given the amount of influenza circulating in the community now, four deaths is not unexpected,” Alberta’s senior medical officer of health Dr. Gerry Predy said. “It is tragic, it is unfortunate when anybody dies but during our seasonal influenza, when we get this level of activity we’re seeing now, we do see deaths.”
One of the victims was from Edmonton. The rest were from Calgary, central and southern Alberta, respectively. Two were middle-aged, and two were seniors. Three had pre-existing risk factors.
The news brings the Alberta death toll to 18.
Vaccination clinics reopened Thursday, though only for young children. Pregnant women were to join the vaccine priority group Friday.
The number of hospitalizations from the virus are on the rise, Predy said, adding 439 people have been admitted to hospital since April.
Roughly 25 per cent of those in intensive care have, or are suspected to have, the virus.
Children younger than nine years old represent 26 per cent of H1N1 patients hospitalized, but, so far, no children in Alberta have died from the virus, Predy said.
Lineups at six Edmonton vaccination clinics flowed smoothly Thursday, though some waiting patients were redirected to other sites with less traffic.
Though many parents brought their children to get vaccinated, some, like pregnant mom Sharon Galbrith, bypassed clinics without concern.
“I don’t know if the vaccine will actually protect me,” she said, adding her three-year-old son Gabriel won’t be vaccinated either.
It is unknown if any of the recent H1N1 victims were injected with the vaccine, Predy said.
More priority groups are expected to be added to the vaccination list next week.