Inmates get H1N1 vaccine, children being told to wait
Province facing vaccine shortage next week
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.”