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Limited supply of flu shots left in Nova Scotia

The province's chief medical officer of health says placing the yearly order for flu shots is a 'fine balance' between supply and demand
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flu vaccine AdobeStock_86931915 2016
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The province's chief medical officer of health says placing the yearly order for flu shots is a "fine balance" between supply and demand.

It's now peak flu season and there's only a limited supply of immunizations left in Nova Scotia.

Dr. Robert Strang says that's not necessarily a bad thing because it means people have been using the flu shots that have been paid for with taxpayer dollars.

"The fact that we're now at a point of the season when the flu vaccine becomes less and less valuable, and we don't have a lot of vaccine left, that's actually the situation we want to be in."

The order needs to be placed a over a year ahead of time and the health department has to anticipate how many will be needed.

The province acquired around 430,000 flu vaccines this year for roughly 960,000 Nova Scotians.

"We know that historically our immunization rates for the overall population hovers around 38 to 39 per cent ... it would not be fiscally responsible for me to go out and order enough vaccine for all of the population knowing that, in all likelihood, next year half of that would be wasted."

As it takes at least a couple of weeks to build up a good immunity to influenza, the Department of Health recommends getting the flu shot before Christmas.

With inventory now running low, children are being prioritized.

"We haven't said 'don't give flu vaccine to other groups,' but what we've said is it's those groups that couldn't get vaccinated or couldn't complete their vaccination before Christmas," Strang tells NEWS 95.7's The Rick Howe Show. "You can't give flu vaccine to a child until they're 6-months of age, so children that are just turning 6-months of age, we said those need to be a priority." 

"And children under 9 who are getting flu vaccine for the first time need two doses one month apart. So we've said those children who are getting their second dose ... those need to be a priority as well."

Stang says there's a lot of flu activity in the province, but the number of deaths and hospitalizations is down.

There have now been five flu-related deaths in Nova Scotia so far this season.




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