Seasonal and H1N1 Flu Shots Plan Announced

Health Promotion and Protection (To Jan. 11)

September 25, 2009 12:46 PM

Nova Scotia has confirmed its plans for the 2009-10 immunization program.

This year's program will include the seasonal flu vaccine and a second vaccine for H1N1 (human swine influenza).

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's Chief Public Health Officer, announced today, Sept. 25, that the first phase of the program will be seasonal flu immunization for seniors age 65 and older, and residents in long-term care facilities.

The next phase will be an H1N1 flu vaccination program for all Nova Scotians.

It is expected that the program will then shift back to the seasonal flu immunization program, which will be for all the usual target groups. Final decisions will be made as the epidemiology of seasonal and H1N1 influenza evolves.

"This is about getting the right vaccine to the right people at the appropriate time," said Dr. Strang. "Our decision is informed and evidence-based. It protects those most at risk for H1N1 and seasonal flu."

The decision is based on the fact that seniors and long-term care facility residents are at low risk for H1N1, but at greatest risk of becoming seriously ill with seasonal flu. They can expect the seasonal flu vaccine to be available starting Oct. 5.

The H1N1 immunization program for all Nova Scotians who want and need the vaccine is still expected to begin in early November.

"Getting vaccinated, remains the best defence against seasonal flu and H1N1," said Dr. Strang. "I encourage all Nova Scotians to be diligent and get the vaccines, not just for their benefit, but in the best interest of their families and community."

Dr. Strang continues to advise that Nova Scotians should make every effort to minimize the spread of the virus. The most important step is to stay home if they are sick with flu-like symptoms, which are fever and/or cough with unusual tiredness, head/muscle/joint aches or sore throat.

People are also encouraged to take the following precautions to prevent illness:
-- Wash hands often with soap and water, especially after a sneeze or cough. When soap and water are not handy, alcohol-based hand sanitizers are an acceptable alternative.
-- Cough and sneeze into elbow or sleeve.
-- If using tissues, dispose of them appropriately and wash hands.
-- Limit touching eyes, nose and mouth.
-- Do not share drinking glasses, water bottles, mouth guards, cosmetics or eating utensils.
-- If concerned that medical advice or care is needed, contact HealthLink 811. Like any illness, should symptoms worsen, visit a doctor or walk-in clinic.


FOR BROADCAST USE:

     The province has announced its plans for the 2009-2010

immunization program.

     Seniors age 65 and older and residents in long-term care

facilities will receive the seasonal flu vaccine in the first

phase.

     After that, an H1N1 (human swine flu) vaccinations will be

available to all Nova Scotians.

It is expected that the campaign will then shift back to the

seasonal flu immunization program for the usual target groups.

Final decisions will be made as the epidemiology of both

seasonal and H1N1 flu evolves.

     Nova Scotia's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Strang

says this is about getting the right vaccine, to the right

people at the appropriate time.

     He encourages all Nova Scotians to get vaccinated, not just

for their benefit, but in the best interest of their families

and community.

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Media Contact: Tony Kiritsis
              Health Promotion and Protection
              902-424-0585
              E-mail: tony.kiritsis@gov.ns.ca