People line up outside the Amherst Armoury early Thursday to be vaccinated against the H1N1 virus. Darrell Cole - Amherst Daily News
AMHERST - Business continues to be brisk at H1N1 immunization clinics as the Cumberland Health Authorities continue to plan for opening up assessment centres around the county.
"We're not at that point yet, but we have most of the plans in place when the need arises," authority spokesperson Ann Keddy said Thursday. "We're monitoring the situation very closely and we will be ready to go when the decision is made to open them."
Keddy said the staffing and supplies are in place should the need arise to open assessment centres while facilities have also been organized in Amherst, Springhill, Oxford, Pugwash and Parrsboro.
While the authority is ready, Keddy said, health officials have not seen a big increase in the number of people reporting to emergency departments and doctors offices with H1N1 symptoms.
"We want as best as possible to keep people away from emergency departments once we get to that point. Having these offsite places is the best place to do these. They'll see either a nurse practitioner or a doctor who will tell them to go home and do this, this and this or in severe cases they'll be sent to hospital for more treatment," she said.
With the opening of the first immunization clinic in Amherst early Thursday large crowds were on hand for H1N1 vaccinations. Prior to the opening of the armoury, people were lined up from the entrance through the parking lot to the Prince Arthur Street by the curling club.
"I don't mind the wait. It's something I have to do," Curtis Brown said "I have a heart condition and my doctor told me to get the shot."
Thearon Allen said there was never any question about him getting vaccinated.
"I did a lot of reading on it and decided pretty quickly this is something I want to do," Allen said.
Teena Blondeau said she was getting the vaccine because she has asthma and wants to be a safe as she can be.
"It's really quite simple. I have asthma and don't want to die. I don't want to take any chances with this," she said. "I've been waiting here for about half an hour, but it's worth it. I did have a big surprise when I saw the lineup. I didn't think it would be this big."
Keddy said health officials stopped taking new people after 2 p.m. yesterday but will be up and running again this morning at 10 a.m. at the armoury.
The clinic shifts to Oxford Regional High School on Monday and Pugwash District High School on Wednesday before going back to Springhill on Wednesday and Amherst on Thursday and Friday. Parrsboro's first clinic is Saturday, Nov. 7.
Keddy said the venue was changed to the high school in both Oxford and Pugwash because health officials realized the original locations would not be big enough.
"We have found quite a big response to our first two clinics and realized the places we had would not be big enough. We want people to be as comfortable as possible," she said.
Officials with the health authority and the province are also urging those outside the high risk groups to wait to get their vaccination.
"We're really placing children under five and pregnant women at the top of the priority list. That needs to be our focus, so we're asking those who aren't at a high risk to wait for now," she said.
The province is urging people with symptoms in the risk groups - those younger than five, pregnant women and those younger than 65 with chronic medical conditions for which they receive regular medical care - to be assessed and receive early treatment as soon as possible. They should visit family doctors, nurse practitioners or family health nurses, go to a walk-in clinic or an assessment centre if there's one in their area.
People with severe symptoms (shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, severe vomiting, high fever and confusion) should call 911 or go to a local ER.
Those with flu-like symptoms who are otherwise healthy should stay home until they are feeling better. They should only seek medical care if their condition worsens.