Healthy Nova Scotians should hold off on getting the H1N1 vaccine so high-risk groups can be immunized first, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer said yesterday.
The first immunization clinics opened yesterday in Truro and Elmsdale, but huge lineups meant not everyone could get their shot. Dr. Robert Strang said citizens should wait so the most vulnerable groups can make it through overwhelmed clinics.
Those 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.
“It would be great if Nova Scotians who aren’t in those groups said ‘I’m going to wait my turn. I’m going to put people who are at greater risk ahead of myself,'” Strang said.
“There is enough vaccine to go around and all Nova Scotians who want to be immunized will be able to get vaccinated. We just aren’t able to do it all in the first day.”
Clinics open in HRM on Monday and will run daily. The province will receive weekly shipments of vaccine and has ordered more than enough for everyone in the province.
The government took another step towards dealing with an over-burdened health care system yesterday by signing a Good Neighbour Protocol with unions. That protocol allows for workers such as nurses to temporarily work in different areas of the province to help combat labour shortages.
If such steps are necessary, the province will kick in extra money to pay the workers’ salaries.
The Capital District Health Authority also announced yesterday it was suspending some services to better prepare for the H1N1 outbreak.
The number of people showing up in emergency rooms across the province with flu-like symptoms have doubled in recent days, Strang said yesterday.
Services temporarily suspended or reduced by Capital District Health Authority.
- Drop-in clinics at Family Resource Centres are suspended.
- Public health prenatal classes are suspended, though the IWK will continue to host labour and delivery classes.
- Routine postpartum home visits are suspended with the exception of those for vulnerable families.
- Vision screening of children in elementary schools is deferred to January.
- Delays are expected in all health promotion programs.
- School Health Program staff will be available to their schools one day per week.
- International Travel Clinic is reduced to one day per week.
- Menu assessments for licensed child care centres will be delayed.