Flu vaccinations kick off with warning to pregnant women - Metro US

Flu vaccinations kick off with warning to pregnant women

Mass H1N1 immunization kicks off today in Nova Scotia with health workers and limited members of the public receiving vaccines.

The first public clinics are also opening today in Truro and Elmsdale. Clinics in the Halifax Regional Municipality open next Monday, but some pregnant women may not want to wait that long

Nova Scotia will receive a shipment of unadjuvanted vaccine specifically for pregnant women by next week, earlier than initially expected. But the province’s chief medical officer Robert Strang said yesterday women in the second half of pregnancy should immediately get the regular adjuvanted vaccine.

“In the latter stages of pregnancy, they are at significant risk of serious disease and bad outcome for themselves and their baby,” Strang said.

“I recommend women in the latter stages of their pregnancy not wait even a week for unadjuvanted vaccine.”

The difference is the adjuvanted vaccine contains a boosting agent. Strang said both are safe for pregnant women and the unadjuvanted option is just an extra safety step. However, Strang said waiting without getting vaccinated is more dangerous.

Women in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy are not as high-risk.

The province has so far received two vaccine shipments totalling 104,000 doses. Another 56,000 doses are expected tomorrow.

Meanwhile, more signs of a second H1N1 wave are popping up. Strang said lab-confirmed cases are growing and more information would be available today.

Education officials said 15 schools across HRM have seen spikes in absentee rates among teachers and students. While they can’t say how many are due to H1N1, some schools have seen absences as high as 20 to 30 per cent.

The province’s 811 information number has also seen a large jump in use.

“There’s been a significant increase in the number of calls to 811,” said Health Minister Maureen MacDonald.

“We’re pleased. This is why we have 811 in place. It’s a very good resource.”

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