Vaccine shortage prompts officials to close clinics
Supply running dangerously low as H1N1 virus spreads across P.E.I.
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.