In­mates get H1N1 vac­cine, chil­dren be­ing told to wait

Prov­ince fac­ing vac­cine short­age next week

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

Ele­men­tary school chil­dren have been told they’ll have to wait to be vac­ci­nated for the po­ten­tially deadly swine flu but the P.E.I. gov­ern­ment has set aside enough vac­cine to en­sure in­mates at cor­rec­tional cen­tres across the prov­ince are pro­tected.

The prov­ince has used al­most all of its cur­rent sup­ply of the H1N1 vac­cine. It had hoped to get an­other 18,000 to 20,000 doses next week but that is not go­ing to hap­pen.

The prov­ince may only get 2,000-3,000 doses of the vac­cine, and much of that will be needed to com­plete the vac­ci­na­tion process for high risk groups not com­pleted this week.

It could be mid-to late-next week be­fore the ele­men­tary school vac­ci­na­tion process gets un­der­way.

But the 280 in­mates and staff at the Pro­vin­cial Cor­rec­tional Cen­tre in Char­lot­te­town and the Prince County Jail in Summerside have al­ready been vac­ci­nated.

Of­fi­cials with the Of­fice of the At­tor­ney Gen­eral say 90 doses of the vac­cine have also been se­ta­side for in­mates and staff at the P.E.I. Youth Cen­tre in Summerside.

Chief Health Of­fi­cer Dr. Heather Mor­ri­son says in­mates are con­sid­ered a pri­or­ity group be­cause it is a closed fa­cil­ity and they have un­der­ly­ing health con­di­tions.

“ They’re at high risk of trans­mit­ting the virus to each other,” Mor­ri­son said.

“ They are a high risk group for a cou­ple of rea­sons. The set­ting as well as the un­der­ly­ing health

con­di­tions for a large num­ber of them.”

There are no re­ports of a swine flu out­break in P.E.I. jails but that’s not the case in Is­land schools.

The swine flu con­tin­ues to rapidly spread at Is­land schools.

Thir­teen Is­land schools have an out­break, which means 10 per cent of the school pop­u­la­tion has what is be­lieved to be swine flu. Eight of those schools are in the East­ern School District, four is in the West­ern School Board and one is with the French Lan­guage School Board.

The prov­ince won’t con­sider clos­ing schools un­til ab­sen­teeism rates hit 30 per cent.

Prince Ed­ward Is­land isn’t the only prov­ince be­ing short changed on vac­cine. It is a na­tional prob­lem. Just over 400,000 doses of the vac­cine will flow from the Que­bec man­u­fac­turer by the end of next week.

That’s be­cause Glax­oSmithK­line has a sin­gle pro­duc­tion line. The com­pany had to stop pro­duc­ing ad­ju­vanted vaccines to make the non-ad­ju­vant type for preg­nant women.

Ad­ju­vants are used to boost im­mune re­sponse.

Af­ter next week, fed­eral health of­fi­cials ex­pect de­liv­ery of vaccines to in­crease, to roughly one mil­lion, and then to nearly 3.5 mil­lion weekly.

Health Min­is­ter Doug Cur­rie said he re­al­izes fur­ther de­lays will only cause fur­ther anx­i­ety for par­ents.

About 20,000 Is­lan­ders or one in seven Is­lan­ders have been vac­ci­nated.

“Cer­tainly as a par­ent of two young chil­dren in Grade 3 and 5, I mean this news will cre­ate some anx­i­ety, I’m sure,” said Cur­rie.

Vac­cine clin­ics are sched­uled for Mon­day in ru­ral ar­eas of the prov­ince where they were forced to close on Thurs­day be­cause they ran out of vac­cine.

Clin­ics in Bloom­field, Summerside, Mon­tague and Souris will be held to com­plete vac­ci­nat­ing high risk Is­lan­ders, us­ing the small about of vac­cine that was left over from this week. (See A3 for more on Mon­day’s clin­ics)

Mor­ri­son said a lot of what is hap­pen­ing with the de­lays in get­ting the vac­cine is be­yond the prov­ince’s con­trol.

“ We can only dis­trib­ute to Is­lan­ders what we are given na­tion­ally.”

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