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H1N1 vaccine shortages hit Halifax-area clinics

H1N1 vaccination clinics open today in the Halifax Regional Municipality, but only for some of those at highest risk.

H1N1 vaccination clinics open today in the Halifax Regional Municipality, but only for some of those at highest risk.

Provincial health officials announced Friday they were limiting flu shots to high-risk groups. The Capital District Health Authority was planning to open clinics to the general public today, but those plans were changed because of a looming shortage of vaccine. Instead, only pregnant women and children between the ages of six and 69 months (birth dates of Dec. 1, 2004 to May 1, 2009) can get the vaccine at four clinics in the Halifax region.

The province made repeated pleas for healthy Nova Scotians to wait two weeks before getting vaccinated, but when the first clinics opened last week in Truro and Elmsdale, they were overwhelmed.

The province’s chief medical officer Dr. Robert Strang said health officials hadn’t expected vans of people to drive from Halifax to get immunized.

Strang said Friday it's now necessary to restrict the limited early supplies of vaccine to high-risk groups.

“I'm asking all other groups to wait,” Strang said. “We will be assessing our vaccine supply on an ongoing basis and we will offer immunization to other groups based on their risk as vaccine supply allows.”

People in high-risk categories also include First Nations communities, and health-care workers, including family physicians, family practice nurses and pharmacists. Health Canada has begun an immunization campaign for First Nations communities, and health care workers are getting their vaccine shots internally.

Currently, Nova Scotia is receiving less vaccine than originally expected. The province has ordered 1.4 million doses of the vaccine, more than enough for every resident.

But it will take time for that full order to come through. Strang said Friday the province has received 160,000 doses and will receive more shipments on a weekly basis.

They had been expecting a shipment of more than 50,000 doses this week, but due to a problem with the manufacturer, it will now only get 12,500 shots of adjuvanted vaccine.
- with files from The Canadian Press

 
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