The province’s H1N1 vaccine priority groups have expanded to include children with chronic illness, women who have just given birth and their partners, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer announced yesterday.

According to Dr. Robert Strang, these groups will be eligible to receive the swine flu vaccination effective immediately. People in the first risk group, including pregnant women and health-care workers, are still eligible to be immunized.

“I’m urging everyone in these groups to get immunized to protect themselves, their families and their community,” said Strang. “It’s their best line of defence against developing influenza and H1N1.”

Strang acknowledged if everyone in the newly announced groups go to get vaccinated, it could deplete the province’s vaccine supply.

“If all the people in this group come forward in the next few days, we quite well might run out of vaccine,” he said. “But I’d much rather immunize as many people as possible and run out of vaccine ... than be overly cautious, sit on vaccine and leave people unprotected.”

Strang also said the province expects to receive an additional 28,500 doses of the adjuvanted vaccine and 23,300 doses of the unadjuvanted vaccine designed for pregnant women sometime next week. He preached patience to groups who are still not eligible to receive the vaccination, acknowledging their frustration at the delay.

“Ultimately, everybody will get an opportunity to get vaccinated,” Strang said. “I do understand that people not in the priority groups are frustrated and concerned, and I want to assure you that ... we will expand the groups further, as soon as we’re able to based on the vaccine supply and based on our list of who is at greatest risk.

“As difficult as the situation is, we all have a responsibility to see that they get vaccinated first,” he added.