Swine flu immunization will cost Nova Scotia an estimated $20 million, Health Minister Maureen MacDonald said Thursday.

However, MacDonald cautioned those numbers could fluctuate by the time the H1N1 outbreak has passed.

Some of that will be covered by the federal government, which will foot 60 per cent of the bill for vaccines.


But that’s only a fraction of the total cost, which includes everything from buying masks and ventilators to paying retired nurses to help run vaccine clinics.

There’s been no federal commitment to chip in for those costs, but MacDonald said there is “a willingness to talk more.”

She said either way the province will help district health authorities that are now facing deficits over H1N1 costs.

“We’ve set money aside for this pandemic," she said. "We did not want the lack of financial resources to impede health care at a very important time.

"We know there are additional costs there and we will be looking at sharing those costs with the DHAs.”

The province set aside $57 million in its budget for a contingency fund, which includes swine flu costs.

Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical health officer, will announce Friday when vaccinaton clinics will be open to the general public. MacDonald said seniors are of particular concern.

“We’re very mindful that we haven’t gotten to seniors over the age of 65, and they’ve waited very patiently,” MacDonald said.

“We know that people over 65 are actually the least likely to get H1N1. However, if they do contract it, they have quite a high risk.”

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