The family of a 46-year-old Halifax man who died Wednesday after contracting the H1N1 flu virus is pleading with the public to heed the advice of health officials and get vaccinated.
Stephen Nolan was an otherwise-healthy outdoor enthusiast and marine biologist with an incredible zest for life, his family said in a release issued Thursday afternoon.
“Stephen’s family wants to emphasize the fact that healthy people with no risk factors who think they may not need the vaccine should get themselves immunized,” said the release. “There are no risks to the vaccine and treating the disease after the emergence of symptoms may be too little too late.”
The family also thanked the staff at the QEII Health Sciences Centre for their efforts to save Nolan’s life after he was admitted to the intensive care unit with severe symptoms.
Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical health officer, echoed the family’s sentiments and urged people to get the shot as soon as possible.
“This is the first (case like this) in Nova Scotia, but about a third of deaths across Canada are in people that were previously healthy,” Strang said. “This is not meant to scare or alarm people, but everybody is at some level of risk for this disease...and therefore we should all be immunized.”
There have now been a total of six deaths in the province due to H1N1, but Strang maintained Nova Scotia is on the downward slope of the pandemic’s second wave.
“It’s not unusual at all with influenza to see that time lag between overall disease activity and the indicators of severe disease,” he said.
Based on recent increases in vaccine supply, Strang said most Nova Scotians could be immunized by mid-December.