TRURO – The upcoming flu season shouldn’t be any busier than previous years, but northern Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health is warning against complacency.
Dr. Ryan Sommers is urging people to get a free flu shot this year, especially those in high risk categories, first responders and health care workers.
“So far what we’ve heard from the expects around the country and those in other countries it looks as though we’re going to have the same type of flu season as last year,” Dr. Sommers said. “Last year wasn’t too bad and we’re sort of hoping for and expecting a similar year this year.”
Nova Scotia has always had a good record of participation in flu shot campaigns and Dr. Sommers is optimistic that record will continue into this year. The fact the flu shot is so easy to get and is free of charge helps drive participation.
“It’s a safe and effective vaccine in that it will protect recipients from getting the flu virus and prevent others from getting the flu from you,” he said. “In typical year we’ll see 30 to 35 per cent and in peak years up to 45 per cent will get the flu vaccine.”
High risk groups include seniors, children from age six months to five years, Indigenous people, pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions and those who live with, or care for people in high-risk groups.
The H1N1 strain of the flu is expected to return this year, but won’t have the impact it did several years ago when it attacked younger, healthier people and sent many scurrying for a flu shot. The main strain is expected to be the H3N2 strain that was here last year.
The flu season typically begins in November and runs until mid to late April.
Flu symptoms often include fever, headache, general aches and pains, fatigue and weakness, a runny and stuffy nose, sneezing and a sore throat.
“Generally, the feeling is you feel like you’ve been hit by a bus,” Dr. Sommers said.
Flu shots are available through family physicians’ and nurse practitioners’ offices while most pharmacies also offer them.
Public Health flu clinics for children under age five, expecting moms and their families in Cumberland County are set for Nov. 1 from 4 to 6 p.m., Dec. 1 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and Jan. 8 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at 18 South Albion St., Amherst.
In Colchester County, clinics are set for Nov. 1 (by appointment) from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Colchester East Hants Health Centre (Wing B) in Truro and Nov. 9 from 3 to 6 p.m. (by appointment) in Elmsdale at the Public Health office.
Drop-in sessions include Oct. 24 at the Truro library, Nov. 2 at the Stewiacke library and Nov. 7 at the Elmsdale library. All sessions are from 10 a.m. to noon.
To book an appointment in Colchester, call 1-800-460-2110 Ext. 45820.
Clinics in Pictou County include: Nov. 2 and Nov. 15 from 3 to 5 p.m. (by appointment) at New Glasgow’s Public Health office, a drop-in session at the Pictou library from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
To book an appointment, call 902-752-5151.