Beginning on Tuesday, October 10, eligible Albertans will be able to book their annual immunizations against fall respiratory viruses, with appointments beginning on October 16.

Those who are eligible will be able to book their appointment for influenza and COVID-19 vaccines at an AHS clinic or pharmacy through the Alberta Vaccine Booking System, or by directly contacting community health clinics or by calling 811.

According to the Alberta Vaccine Booking System, the updated XBB COVID-19 vaccine formulations will be available in the coming weeks.

"Individuals should consider delaying their COVID-19 booster dose until the vaccine becomes available."

The topic of immunizations was also brought up during a press conference earlier this week when health and provincial officials were updating the public on the E. Coli outbreak in Calgary daycares. When Premier Danielle Smith was asked by reporters if she would be getting a COVID-19 booster shot, as per the federal government's advice, she said she was not willing to discuss her decision with the media.

"I tend to take care of my immune system and I believe this is something I should talk about with my doctor," Premier Smith answered.

Alberta's Health Minister Adriana LaGrange was asked the same question.

"Depends which shot you're talking about... I'm working. I'm very healthy as well. I have a very healthy immune system. I also believe that this is a personal decision for individuals to make. I will look at that as time progresses and what my journey is," she said.

In a media release from the province Minister LaGrange was quoted as saying that keeping up to date on one's immunizations is an excellent way to protect oneself against the coming respiratory illness season.

"Doing what you can to prevent severe illness will also help secure our health care system for those who need it most.”

While Alberta's government has made no announcements on whether they will be re-introducing masking in healthcare settings, British Columbia's officials did confirm that as of Tuesday, October 3, mandatory masking will be put back into effect in the province's healthcare facilities. 

"Long-term care visitors will be required to wear a medical mask when they are in common areas of the home and when participating in indoor events, gatherings, activities in communal areas of the care home or residence," a news release on the B.C. government's website stated.

In late June, Alberta Health Services rescinded the Use of Masks During COVID-19 Directive. In an update on Thursday afternoon, the province stated that since September 3, there have been 21 confirmed cases of RSV.

"We've recorded 52 cases of influenza, resulting in 10 hospitalizations and no admissions to intensive care units or deaths. This is consistent activity for this time of year."

For COVID-19, from September 3 to September 23 there were a total of 1,470 cases and 286 hospitalizations, with 13 ICU admissions. 20 Albertans died during that period due to COVID-19.

“Very soon we will be launching a refreshed dashboard with up-to-date data that will align reporting on respiratory illnesses including COVID-19, RSV and influenza. This change will bring Alberta’s COVID-19 reporting schedule into line with other jurisdictions such as British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia."

In addition to being immunized, Albertans are encouraged to take the following everyday actions to limit the spread of respiratory illnesses, including, staying home when feeling sick, if possible, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, as well as washing hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer. 

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