While the country's top public health worker is still calling on the population to get their flu shot, the province's health ministry faces a lack of vaccinations and reflects the importance of being vaccinated so late in the season.
"We are now at the time of the influenza season, where the vaccine becomes less important given the time it takes to develop full immunity to the vaccine," said Tracobar spokesman Tracy Barron. Barron says it takes two weeks for protective antibodies to form after vaccination. The province is currently in high season, which is expected to last another three weeks.
Meanwhile, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's top public health officer Wednesday: "The flu season is not over yet, but it's not too late to get #FluShot!"
Agency spokesman Anna Maddison admitted the best time to be vaccinated in October or November when vaccines become available. But she also said that February is not too late to avoid the flu later in the season. This year's flu shot reduces the overall risk of getting influenza by 72 percent, and for children the risk is reduced by 91 percent, she says.
Barron said on Wednesday that all vaccinations have been distributed throughout the province but stopped short of saying there is a shortage.
But dr. Robert Strang, the provincial health manager, issued a memo 21 Jan to Nova Scotia doctors who encouraged them and the pharmacies to share the remaining doses to ensure that babies and young children were vaccinated.
Chronicle Herald contacted several medical offices and pharmacies in the province and was told that there are deficiencies in vaccines in Halifax, Annapolis Valley and Antigonish regions. But there seemed to be a number of vaccines left in the Sydney area.
Barron says there is a limited amount of vaccines in Nova Scotia, the department believes there is enough for those who still want to be vaccinated.
"We want to take the side of having too much vaccine than not enough, without having too much waste," Barron said. "At this point in the flu season, we expect that most people seeking a vaccine have received it now …. We have asked providers to make children a priority and to work together to ensure that the children who still requires a vaccine, get it. "
But she said that the department does not know how many vaccines can be left in the province and how many babies and young children are still expected to be vaccinated. They are particularly susceptible to the predominantly influenza A virus currently circulating in the province.
The province says it cannot buy more vaccines. All provinces and territories purchase the influenza vaccine for the annual public vaccination programs through contracts concluded on behalf of Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC). Barron said the province should only order another five percent of their original order. She said the department ordered extra for a total of 430,000 doses available throughout the province this season.
On the question of what the province would do if there was an urgent lack, Barron said that the department would not comment on hypothetical.
The Herald asked with Canada's Public Health Agency whether the province could receive more vaccines in the event of an emergency, but the Agency did not respond.
The Agency said that for this flu season, no flu vaccine deficiency has been reported.
So far this season, five people with influenza have died in Nova Scotia, according to the Department of Health. Three of the deaths were people between 45-64 and two were 65 or older. Between the 20th and 26th. January, 14 adults and one child received intensive care treatment according to the province's latest Respiratory Watch report.
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