SPRINGHILL - There was really no question when Adrian Baillargeon considered whether he was going to get vaccinated against the H1N1 virus.
"The danger of getting the H1N1 is much greater than any side effects could be," Baillargeon said after getting his vaccination at the Springhill Armoury on Wednesday. "There was really no question about me getting it."
Approximately 300 people flowed through the armoury on the first day of H1N1 immunization clinics in Cumberland County. When public health officials arrived early in the day to begin the clinic, they found close to 150 lined up outside the complex.
If the first day is any indication, the campaign is going to be a busy one.
"The first day has been going very well except for the long lineup. Everyone seems anxious get the vaccine," public health nurse manager Sharon Griffin said. "The response has been excellent."
A couple of weeks ago public health officials were not sure what the response would be, but with the return of the virus attitudes seem to have shifted.
For Keith Mackintosh of Amherst there's no question his family will all be getting vaccinated.
"I'm hearing of more and more people who are getting sick so why take the chance," Mackintosh said. "I'm encouraging everyone to get it because the risk of getting the disease far outweighs any chance of getting sick from the vaccine. You only hear about that on the Internet and on Facebook."
Mackintosh said he has two businesses to run and can't afford to fall ill while his wife, pharmacist Anne-Marie Mackintosh, has done all the research on the vaccine and feels it's safe.
Cumberland Health Authority spokesperson Ann Keddy said there are cases of H1N1 in the community and urged people to take the necessary precautions.
"There is definitely H1N1 in the community. We have confirmed cases and that number is changing daily. But there are other illnesses in the community as well, so people should know what the primary symptoms of H1N1 are," Keddy said.
H1N1 symptoms include a fever and cough with unusual fatigue and head, muscle and joint aches or sore throat. Symptoms such as runny nose are more often associated with a cold.
Keddy said people should keep watch for complications. They can go to the CHA's website at www.cha.nshealth.ca or the province's website at www.gov.ns.ca/H1N1 where there is information on home management of influenza, including what to look for if symptoms worsen.
If more serious conditions exist, Keddy said, the person should seek medical attention. They should identify upon their arrival that they have symptoms of H1N1 and be prepared to wear a mask to avoid spreading the virus to others.
The most important thing people can do to protect themselves, she said, is to get a vaccination. Clinics run until Nov. 28. The H1N1 vaccine is available free of charge to all Nova Scotians. Clinic dates and times are available on the government website or by calling HealthLink 811.
Amherst physician Dr. Brian Ferguson said he is seeing plenty of H1N1 in the community and suggested hysteria about the vaccine is just that.
"What is known is that this is a brand new flu virus, it's not the return of the Russian, Bangkok or Hong Kong flu. We won't have any memory bank to fight this, so the population is at risk," Ferguson said. "It's not negotiable as far as I'm concerned, everyone should get it. Do I take the flu vaccine every year? I do not. Am I taking the H1N1 vaccine? Yes, I am. There's no reason to play Russian roulette with this. There's no reason to gamble with this."
Dr. Celina White, the chair of the medical staff association at the regional hospital, is urging pregnant women to have the vaccination.
"For those women in the second and third trimesters from 20 weeks on are in the high risk category in that they have a much higher risk of developing complications they can pass on to their baby," White said. "The vaccine has been thoroughly studied an all indications are it is safe."