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‘We’re getting frustrated’: Calls grow for N.S. to cover high-dose flu shot for seniors – Global News

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The flu shot campaign is well underway across Canada, and in Nova Scotia, calls are growing for the province to cover the cost of the high-dose influenza vaccine for all seniors.

“I’m hearing about this regularly,” said Bill VanGorder, a senior spokesperson with the provincial chapter of the Canadian Association of Retired Persons.

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“We did a webinar on fitness last night of all things. We had over 200 people on the webinar and even in the fitness context, they brought up the concern about not being able to get the high-dose.”

“We’ve been asking for it for three years,” VanGorder told Global News in an interview at Province House on Thursday. “We’re getting frustrated, frankly, that it hasn’t happened yet.”

He was there watching Liberal MLA Angela Simmonds table a bill in the N.S. Legislature that called for the provincial health plan to cover the cost of the high-dose shot for all seniors over the age of 65.

Currently, Nova Scotia only covers the cost of the high-dose flu shot for seniors in long-term care homes or those in hospital waiting for a long-term care placement.

Read more:

N.S. begins booking seasonal flu shots, ordered 474,000 doses this year

The province’s lung and pharmacy associations set up a clinic at Province House so MLAs and staff could be more aware of the issue.

“Prior to the pandemic, 70 to 80 Nova Scotians a year passed away,” said Robert MacDonald, the CEO of the Lung Association of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

He said those people are some of the 4,500 that, on average, pass away annually across the county due to influenza.

“Now that people are moving around more and more often, there’s more susceptibility to getting the flu, and the vaccine is the best way to protect yourself from getting that,” he said.

Nova Scotia is one of four provinces — and the only Maritime province — that doesn’t cover the cost.

VanGorder said covering the high-dose shot for all seniors would save the province money in the long run, because it would help keep people out of the hospital.

After tabling her bill Friday, Angela Simmonds, the Liberal party’s seniors and long-term care critic, told Global News that expanded coverage should start now.

“It represents equity throughout,” she said. “There [is] definitely a gap for seniors 65 and over.”

Read more:

COVID, flu shots reduce ‘danger’ of needing other health measures this winter: Trudeau

Susan Leblanc, the NDP’s health critic, also introduced similar legislation recently.

“We know that NACI (National Advisory Council on Immunization) recommends that all seniors over 65 get the high-dose flu vaccine,” she said in an interview.

“It will keep people healthier and, of course, seniors are at higher risk for bad consequences when it comes to getting influenza,” she added.

“I’m a little befuddled as to why the minister is not listening to NACI.”

But Michelle Thompson, the province’s health and wellness minister, says that coverage is under review.

“We know that the regular flu vaccine is safe and effective and we just encourage folks to go out and get that coverage,” Thompson said. “We continue to review whether or not the high-dose flu is something we’ll offer in the future, but not this year.”

That’s despite challenges amplified by the cost of living crisis.

“My wife and I had it last week and, together, we paid a bill of $213.60,” VanGorder said. “We’ve been asking for [this coverage] for three years… We’re getting frustrated.”

You can book your influenza or COVID-19 vaccine here or call by calling 1-833-797-7772.

&copy 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Children’s hospital in Newfoundland and Labrador is cancelling some surgeries

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A children’s hospital in the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador is cancelling some surgeries and appointments starting Monday.

Health officials say it’s due to a high level of respiratory illness.

It is unclear how many surgeries and appointments at Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre in St. John‘s will be affected.

Residents who are not experiencing a medical emergency are being asked to avoid visiting an emergency department.

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Older adults amongst the most susceptible to RSV

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TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The risk of Respiratory Syncytial Virus, also known as RSV, typically flies under the radar when it comes to older adults.

With 10 times the amount of older adults being hospitalized for RSV than in previous years, understanding the risk is important for those who are more susceptible.

“RSV in older adults starts out with the same symptoms as younger adults. With common cold-like symptoms- nasal congestion, sniffles, low-grade temperature, sore throat, dry cough, tiredness. These symptoms will last for a few days,” Mary Derby, Nurse Manager at Pima County Health Department explained.

“However, an older adult or an adult with chronic medical conditions such as heart and lung disease- they can experience more serious symptoms, such as getting a high fever, dehydration, and real difficulty breathing.”

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Derby says if these symptoms lead to extreme chest pain, loss of color in the face, or struggle to breathe- seek medical attention immediately.

It is also important for those assisting an older adult to be aware of the risk imposed on those more susceptible.

“If you’re caring for older adults, please wash your hands frequently. Watch for your own symptoms and stay away if you’re experiencing symptoms. Consider wearing a mask to protect that older adult, because these older adults do need that protection… Take it seriously,” Derby emphasized.

Upward 6,000 to 10,000 older adults die each year from RSV.

As we make our way through the holidays, be sure to stay up to date with COVID-19 and Influenza vaccines, stay home if you are not feeling well, wash your hands often and for those at higher risk, wear a fitted mask around others.

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Breanna Isbell is a reporter for KGUN 9. She joined the KGUN 9 team in July of 2022 after receiving her bachelor’s degree in sports journalism from Arizona State University in May. Share your story ideas with Breanna by emailing breanna.isbell@kgun9.com or by connecting on Facebook, or Twitter.

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AIDS day walk in North Battleford aims to `banish that stigma’

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 By Julia Peterson

 Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

On World AIDS Day, advocates in the Battlefords gathered to raise awareness about how the virus affects people in their community, and how people can get help and treatment, if they need it.

“HIV is completely preventable in today’s society, with all the advances in medication,” said Battle River Treaty 6 Health Centre’s HIV project coordinator, Cymric Leask. “But due to a lot of intersecting factors, especially due to COVID  in the past couple of years, our HIV numbers have skyrocketed.”

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In 2021, more than 200 new cases of HIV were diagnosed in the province, even while testing, treatment and outreach were reduced during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Saskatchewan has the highest rate of new HIV infections in Canada, and has had the highest annual rate in the country for more than a decade.

The proportion of new HIV cases in rural areas is rising, too.

“Here up north, there are such large barriers to access to care,” said Leask. “We do have some great resources here in North Battleford  but it’s still very hard to access the proper care for HIV.”

For example, getting started on HIV medication requires a visit with a communicable disease doctor, but there is no communicable disease doctor based in the Battlefords. Instead, that doctor visits the community only once every four months.

Another barrier Leask has found is that many people still have an outdated  understanding of what HIV is, who is at risk and how treatment works.

“Especially here in rural areas, it’s stigmatized as something that only affects gay or bisexual men, men who have sex with men,” Leask said.

Today in Saskatchewan, men and women are diagnosed with HIV at almost equal rates, and two thirds of new cases are passed through injection drug use.

Treatments are much easier to manage than they used to be; some only involve taking one pill a day.

But the enduring stigma around HIV makes it harder for people to find community and support.

“People don’t talk about it,” said Jackie Kennedy, executive director of the Battlefords Indian and Metis Friendship Centre. “I think they’re afraid to. A lot of people don’t disclose that information (about their HIV status) because they are afraid to be judged.”

As more people continue to be diagnosed with HIV in Saskatchewan every year, groups and organizations in the Battlefords are working hard to make it easier for people to get testing, treatment, information and harm reduction supplies.

“We want to banish that stigma of how it used to be,” said Leask. “It’s not like that anymore.”

  Julia Peterson is a  Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with THE STARPHOENIX

The LJI program is federally funded.

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