The second H1N1 wave is declining, but people still need to guard against a potential third wave, provincial health officials stressed yesterday.
In his weekly H1N1 update, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer, Dr. Robert Strang, said the numbers of people going to hospital with severe flu symptoms never hit worst-case scenario predictions and are now dropping.
But Strang said people need to get vaccinated to head off the “strong likelihood” of another outbreak in the winter or spring.
“It is a personal choice to get immunized, but people need to understand the choice they make affects not just themselves,” Strang said.
“They may be the person who has mild disease but the person that they spread it to sitting on the bus or sitting beside them at work may be the person who gets severely ill and ends up in hospital or perhaps even dies.”
The province is receiving more than 300,000 doses of vaccine this week and next. Strang said scarcity of vaccine is no longer a problem.
In the week starting Nov. 15, there were 28 new confirmed H1N1 hospitalizations, as well as two deaths – a man and a woman, both in their 40s and with underlying health conditions.
But overall, the percentage of emergency room visits for people with influenza-like illness fell to 15 per cent from 24 per cent the previous week.
QEII Health Sciences director of virology and immunology Todd Hatchette said despite recent H1N1 ebbing, people should not become complacent.
“There is something different about this virus that separates it from seasonal flu," he said. "As an infectious disease physician, when you walk through the (intensive care unit) and see half the beds filled with people being treated for influenza is quite abnormal.
“You never see this in a seasonal flu epidemic.”