Waiting our turn to get vaccinated
Rules must be established and followed or the process will be chaotic.
T he long lineups, lengthy waits and frayed nerves at H1N1 flu clinics across P.E.I. this week were not the fault of the health-care system. Most of the problems during the opening week of vaccinations arose with people ‘jumping the line’.
The Department of Health is trying to exercise due diligence to ensure that those Islanders most at risk get vaccinated right away. A police presence was necessary in Charlottetown on Thursday when health officials were forced to screen people in order to keep lineups under control.
The first clinics were for people deemed most at risk from the swine flu. There were very specific categories, such as chronically ill, young children, aboriginals and health-care workers. The details were well advertised but when the clinics opened, the lines were jammed with people ineligible for the vaccine at this time. That caused huge delays. Mothers with small children had to wait for hours in a lineup beside people who just wanted to get their shot early.
At the very least it was inconsiderate, and there could be more serious consequences later. One can understand the anger from people who waited in line for several hours only to be told they could not get a shot because they didn’t fit the high-risk category. Seniors, normally the group most at risk in any other health crisis situation, are not considered a priority. It’s hard for some to accept this.
Once the strict screening process started at the Sherwood clinic, for example, the lines and waits disappeared. People arrived, got processed and received a vaccination.
One can also understand that many people are worried about waiting an extra week or two. But when they are putting the health of others at risk, and causing a major inconvenience for health-care workers, there is really no excuse for such behaviour.
Just a short time ago, many Canadians were not sure if they would get the swine flu shot. That all changed with the tragic deaths of several young people, including a 13-year-old healthy boy in Ontario. That caused parents to take notice. You can’t blame them for wanting the H1N1 shots for their children right away. But there is only so much vaccine available each week, only so many health-care workers available, and only so many clinic locations. Rules must be established and followed or the process will be chaotic.
Recently retired health-care workers deserve our thanks for answering the call to help with the clinics. Assessment centres have also eased the anxiety somewhat. If you are ill, go to a centre and professionals will decide on the best options.
The consensus is that week one went as well as could be expected. If we wait our turn, everyone should be looked after.