There’s no sense sugar coating the calendar. That was the gist of the message delivered by Alberta Minister of Health Tyler Shandro on Friday, when he held a press conference to talk about  flu season.

Turns out it was the rare presser where the politician ended up being the one doing all the wincing, although to be fair to Shandro, that was part of the message he hoped to deliver to Albertans.

The province is gearing up for another western Canadian winter full of sniffles and misery by providing a flu vaccine, that will available free to everyone willing to get jabbed in the arm starting the week of Oct. 21.

“I’m here to say four words,” Shandro said.  “Get your flu shot.

”It’s safe,” he added, “it’s easy, it helps protect you from the flu. It helps you avoid giving the flu to someone else in your community or your home such as the elderly, people with serious risk or compromised immune systems.”

The vaccine is formulated each year to protect against the strains expected to cause the most illness in Canada, based on the advice from the World Health Organization who monitor circulating strains elsewhere in the world.

Just to demonstrate that he walks the walk as well as he talks it, Shandro got a flu shot himself.

Tyler Shandro, Alberta Minister of Health

There were 52 deaths last year among hospitalized patients with laboratory-confirmed influenza.

“Getting your shot is one of the best things you can do to protect your health and it’s never been easier to get it,” said Shandro.