On behalf of the Board of CARP Nova Scotia, we are writing with great concern that all indications are that this year’s flu season will likely be a bad one in Nova Scotia. Across the country officials have been looking at Australia’s particularly unusual flu season, and based on what that country is experiencing this year, it appears it will be a very difficult flu season here in Nova Scotia..
Australian health authorities are reporting high than usual flu activity for this time of year, — more than 220 deaths so far. The Australian health ministry says it has ordered 300,000 more high-dose flu vaccines for this year compared to last year, with a total order of 1.2 million. That vaccine has four times the amount of antigens than the regular flu shot and is given to more vulnerable people, such as seniors.
CARP NS believes that because of the predictions of a very difficult flu season in Canada and because influenza is a leading cause of hospitalization and death amongst vaccine preventable diseases in seniors in Nova Scotia, the government should act immediately to expand the availability of high-dose to all seniors in the Province. Not just those in long term care homes. We are especially believe that high-dose flu vaccine should be available to all seniors 65+ whose doctor diagnoses and rates them appropriately on the Frailty Scale.
Last year’s flu season in Nova Scotia saw over 760 laboratory confirmed cases of influenza, nearly half among adults 65 years of age and older, 357 hospitalizations, 75 ICU admissions and 55 deaths reported to Nova Scotia’s Public Health Services. A high proportion of these were seniors who live in their own homes or with their families. These are the seniors we want to keep out of hospitals. High-dose flu vaccine for that population would go a long way to accomplish that goal.
Our almost 10,000 CARP members in Nova Scotia respectfully request detailed information on the plans of the Provincial Government to meet the challenges for the upcoming influenza season especially as those challenges relate to citizens age 65 years and older. We trust that will include expanding the availability of high-dose to all seniors in the Province, an advertising campaign encouraging everyone to get the flu shot, a strong demand that all health care workers, especially those in long-term care homes and hospitals have the flu shot and, just as important, encourage ill employees to take a time off work to prevent further spread of a virus.
We look forward to your response.