News Release Archive

HEALTH--Double Protection for Seniors in 1997 Flu Campaign
The annual flu campaign in Nova Scotia will be expanded this year
to include a new vaccine for protecting seniors against a common
type of pneumonia.

Nova Scotians over age 65 are encouraged to get a flu shot every
fall. This year, seniors will also be encouraged to get
vaccinated against pneumococcal pneumonia when they visit their
family doctor or public health clinic for their flu shot. One
injection to protect against this common pneumonia is generally
good for life.

"A flu shot is a very important and very simple step to protect
yourself from the flu," said Health Minister Jim Smith. "A flu
shot coupled with a vaccination against common pneumonia gives
seniors double protection against preventable illnesses that can
be fatal."

Flu shots are free for seniors and for people of all ages who are
at high risk such as people with diabetes, anyone with chronic
lung or heart problems such as asthma, and AIDS patients. Others
can expect to pay a small fee.

The vaccine for pneumococcal pneumonia will also be free for
seniors this year. It is anticipated the provincially funded
vaccine for pneumococcal pneumonia will be expanded to other age
groups starting next year. The budget set aside for pneumonia
vaccine this year is $965,000, bringing total departmental
spending on immunization for seniors to over $1 million for 

The pneumonia vaccine protects against a major cause of pneumonia
and meningitis among the elderly. Every year in Canada there are
an estimated 80,000 cases of pneumonia, 4,000 cases of blood
infection and 500 cases of meningitis due to this germ.

As well, infections from this germ account for about 30 to 50 per
cent of hospital admissions for community-acquired pneumonia in
adults. About 1 in 20 adults over 65 years will be hospitalized
for pneumococcal disease. The mortality rate for seniors with
chronic illness is about 30 per cent.  

"Nova Scotia joins other provinces with the decision to fund
pneumonia vaccine for seniors," said Dr. Jeff Scott, provincial
medical officer of health.

"We're hoping every senior who gets a flu shot this fall will
also get vaccinated for common pneumonia during the same visit to
the doctor or public health clinic," said Dr. Scott. "In two easy
steps, seniors will protect themselves against serious illness."
Health Department statistics show more than 60 per cent of
seniors in Nova Scotia get an annual flu shot. November to April
is prime flu time in Canada. For the most complete protection
against the flu, October is the best month to get a flu shot.
It's also the best time for seniors to get their once-in-a-lifetime vaccination for common pneumonia. 

This year's flu and pneumococcal immunization campaign is a
project of the Department of Health in cooperation with regional
health boards, the Lung Association of Nova Scotia, the Pharmacy
Association of Nova Scotia, The Medical Society of Nova Scotia,
the Nova Scotia Association of Health Organizations, the Heart
and Stroke Foundation, the Senior Citizens Secretariat, the
Canadian Diabetes Association, Canadian Pensioners Concerned Nova
Scotia and the Canadian Cancer Society, Nova Scotia Division.


Contact: Lori MacLean
         Department of Health

ngr                   Oct. 1, 1997                    11:30 am