Nova Scotia is ready to call in thousands of retired nurses in the event of a swine flu spike, officials say.
Health officials told a legislative committee yesterday the province is prepared for a new outbreak of the virus, also known Influenza A (H1N1).
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Their statements were in sharp contrast to an Auditor General’s report from late July that said the province was ill-prepared and had inadequate stockpiles.
Yesterday, health officials said they’ve ordered $10.8 million worth of medical supplies since then, including masks, ventilators, vaccine and gloves. The province should be fully stocked by early November.
“We are going to have more than ample supply of vaccine. The challenge is going to be to get the public to take this seriously enough to come out and get immunized,” Chief Medical Officer Dr. Robert Strang told the committee.
The plan is to ideally have every Nova Scotian vaccinated against H1N1 starting in November. To do that the province may bring in about 4,000 retired nurses to help run mass clinics in communities. Immunization will be free.
Strang said many people have become complacent because, despite the headlines, swine flu hasn’t had a large effect in Nova Scotia. But he said everyone is still at risk.
“The reality is that even if it’s a typical flu-like illness, that makes people quite ill,” Strang said to reporters afterwards. “But there is a small proportion of people who are getting severely ill from H1N1 and some have died.”
In the budget announced last week, the NDP put an extra $54 million into a fund dealing with both new union negotiations and H1N1 preparedness. Liberal MLA Diana Whalen tried yesterday to find out how much of that money was allocated to swine flu but had no luck.
Officials said they didn’t know what the final cost would be and were hesitant to offer a guess.