Pregnant women at high risk for H1N1 will have access to vaccine in the Halifax Regional Municipality this week.

 

Vaccination clinics originally weren’t supposed to start until next Monday. But fears of overcrowding caused Capital Health and the IWK Health Centre to kick off limited early vaccinations at the IWK for pregnant women only.

 

The IWK clinics are open from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. today and tomorrow.

 

“We’ve put pregnant women in a tough position by recommending they get vaccinated. In the Halifax area, they didn’t really have a chance this week,” said the province's chief medical officer Dr. Robert Strang.

The clinics are designed for women in the later half of their pregnancy. Healthy women in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy are not at a higher risk and it's recommended they wait until next week for unadjuvanted vaccine.

“Because of the increased H1N1 activity we are recommending pregnant women that are 20 weeks and above get adjuvanted vaccine now and not wait even to next week,” Strang said.

Health officials are also opening a flu assessment centre starting at noon today. People who show up to the centre at Maritime Hall in the Halifax Forum can get new advice on what individuals should do if they have flu symptoms.

Strang reiterated his call yesterday for people not in high-risk groups to wait up to two weeks before getting vaccinated to make room for highest-risk patients to be immunized first.

High-risk groups include people under 65 with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, children under five years of age, health care workers and people who live with a baby under six months of age.