Vac­cine short­age prompts of­fi­cials to close clin­ics

Sup­ply run­ning dan­ger­ously low as H1N1 virus spreads across P.E.I.

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - Front Page - BYWAYNE THI­BODEAU

A short­age of swine flu vac­cine prompted health of­fi­cials to shut down three clin­ics early on Thurs­day and health of­fi­cials are warn­ing the stock­pile of vac­cine on the Is­land is run­ning dan­ger­ously low.

This comes as the swine flu or H1N1 con­tin­ues to spread across Prince Ed­ward Is­land.

Dozens of peo­ple swamped a flu as­sess­ment cen­tre in Char­lot­te­town on Thurs­day. Health of­fi­cials will open three ad­di­tional clin­ics across the prov­ince to­day in O’Leary, Summerside and Souris.

Chief Health Of­fi­cer Dr. Heather Mor­ris on says the prov­ince is re­ceiv­ing trou­bling in­for­ma­tion that the amount of vac­cine des­tined for P.E.I. next week may be less than first an­tic­i­pated.

That, she added, may cause fur­ther de­lays in get­ting Is­lan­ders vac­ci­nated.

Mor­ri­son said there will be enough vac­cine for all Is­lan­ders, but how much the prov­ince re­ceives ev­ery week is de­ter­mined by the Pub­lic Health Agency in Ottawa.

“ We can only give out the amount of vac­cine that we have,” Mor­ri­son said dur­ing a brief­ing on Thurs­day.

“Al­though we have a plan in place of what we want to do for the vac­cine roll­out, if we do not get the vac­cine that we would like we will have to ad­just our clinic sched­ules.”

Vac­ci­na­tion clin­ics in Bloom­field, Summerside and Souris were forced to close early on Thurs­day be­cause they ran out of vac- cine.

Those clin­ics will not re­open un­til next week.

But the vac­cine short­age will not af­fect swine flu vac­ci­na­tion pro­grams for preg­nant women, which get un­der­way to­day at the Poly­clinic in Char­lot­te­town and the Summerside Med­i­cal Cen­tre in Summerside.

The prov­ince re­ceived 18,000 doses of the vac­cine this week.

By mid­day on Thurs­day, more than 15,000 doses had been ad­min­is­tered. The prov­ince con­tin­ues to fo­cus on those at most risk of com­pli­ca­tions, in­clud­ing chil­dren.

Kelly Dawn Perry of Mid­dle­ton is fear­ful for her chil­dren’s health. She’s tried to get her chil­dren, aged five, four and three, vac­ci­nated at three sep­a­rate vac­ci­na­tion clin­ics but wasn’t able to get the shots.

Perry went to Summerside on Wed­nes­day but was told they were not tak­ing any more pa­tients.

She went to Len­nox Is­land on Thurs­day but was told that clinic was for abo­rig­i­nals only so she tried Bloom­field only to be told there were 500 peo­ple in line in front of her.

“I’m re­ally mad,” she said. “I have a rel­a­tive who has the swine flu. If we don’t get this nee­dle our whole fam­ily is go­ing to get this.”

The P.E.I. gov­ern­ment is ex­pand­ing the num­ber of flu as­sess­ment clin­ics across the Is­land, which is where Is­lan­ders go if they have flu-like symp­toms.

Those with se­ri­ous flu­like symp­toms should call 911 or go to their lo­cal hospi­tal emer­gency room.

The first flu clinic opened at the Four Neigh­bour­hoods Fam­ily Health Cen­tre in Char­lot­te­town.

To­day, clin­ics also open at the Ur­gent Care Cen­tre at Com­mu­nity Hospi­tal in

O’Leary, at the Har­bour­side Fam­ily Health Cen­tre in Summerside as well as at the out­pa­tients depart­ment at Souris Hospi­tal.

Clin­ics will be open from 10 a.m. un­til 8 p.m. seven days per week.

Pa­tients who need to ac­cess health ser­vices for non-flu-re­lated health prob­lems in O’Leary and at Har­bour­side clinic in Summerside will have to go else­where un­til the swine flu sub­sides, added Dr. Richard Wedge, the di­rec­tor of med­i­cal pro­grams for the prov­ince.

The prov­ince is no longer test­ing for swine flu un­less pa­tients are ad­mit­ted to hospi­tal.

Mor­ri­son said the prov­ince now knows that the sec­ond wave of the swine flu is here.

“If you have in­fluen­za­like ill­ness, it is as­sumed you will have H1N1,” said the doc­tor.

Mor­ri­son

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