Message hits home eventually

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A bit of good advice sometimes only goes a little way. But put a scare into people and it often changes things, fast.

Some reports have emerged from across the country regarding a nasty strain of flu. H1N1 has been identified as a factor in the deaths of a number of people. That sad reality includes Pictou County, where last week the medical officer of health for Pictou, Colchester and Cumberland county DHAs confirmed a 42-year-old woman died after becoming ill.

Dr. Ryan Sommers also said the flu caused the death of a 62-year-old man in Colchester County. He said both cases also involved underlying medical factors, but still is urging people who haven’t had a vaccine to get one.

As is typical when a contagious virus makes the news, there is an upswing in numbers of people looking to get a shot.

That can create a secondary problem. The deputy head of the Public Health Agency of Canada said late last week that the country could possibly run out of the vaccine depending on demand. After a number of cases in Western Canada, larger numbers rushed to clinics seeking that health safeguard.

With similar reports of serious illness in Central and Eastern Canada, Dr. Gregory Taylor said if the same rush for vaccines continues, supplies could run short. Still, the country has found an additional half-million flu shots it could purchase.

Ordinarily, mid-January would be when flu clinics are winding down. But Taylor, Sommers and other health professionals are reminding people that the vaccine is still available at doctors’ offices, from nurse practitioners and – recently in Nova Scotia – at pharmacies.

Taylor, in commenting on the concerns, said this is a normal flu season.

Dwelling a moment on that thought, it would mean there is no reason to be alarmed, but it also says that par for the course should be to take the precaution – everyone, but particularly those in higher-risk categories. The old adage applies: better be safe than sorry.

Organizations: Public Health Agency of Canada

Geographic location: Colchester County, Pictou County, Western Canada Central and Eastern Canada Nova Scotia

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