H1N1 vac­cine flow to slow, then pick up

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - Canada -

OTTAWA — The de­liv­ery of H1N1 vac­cine to the prov­inces will slow dra­mat­i­cally next week be­fore ramp­ing up again in each of the fol­low­ing weeks, likely mean­ing more frus­tra­tion as peo­ple line up for flu shots.

Just over 400,000 doses of the ad­ju­vanted ver­sion of the vac­cine will flow from the Que­bec man­u­fac­turer by the end of next week, Dr. David But­ler-Jones, the chief pub­lic health of­fi­cer, said Fri­day.

As well, more than 200,000 doses of the un­ad­ju­vanted ver­sion will be im­ported.

“ We have been get­ting about two mil­lion doses a week,” said But­ler-Jones.

“ That’s where the six mil­lion doses that are cur­rently out there comes from.”

Of that six mil­lion, some prov­inces may still have some left. But those sup­plies will likely be de­pleted by the end of next week, said But­ler-Jones.

Al­ready, On­tario’s health min­is­ter has warned lo­cal health units they will re­ceive only a frac­tion of the doses of H1N1 vac­cine they had been ex­pect­ing.

Cal­gary’s five swine flu vac­ci­na­tion clin­ics shut their doors around noon be­cause of over­whelm­ing de­mand.

Any­one still in line at that time was to get a shot, but clin­ics then stopped ac­cept­ing new peo­ple, said Al­berta Health Ser­vices.

The clin­ics were to re­open Satur­day, but pro­vin­cial of­fi­cials warned that some clin­ics could again be tem­po­rar­ily sus­pended as sup­plies from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment dry up.

The north­ern ter­ri­to­ries, where the pop­u­la­tion is sparse but spread over a large geo­graph­i­cal area, al­ready have their full com­mit­ment of swine flu vac­cine.

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

As the im­me­di­ate sup­ply is re­duced to a trickle, how­ever, health of­fi­cials urge peo­ple who are con­sid­ered to be at low risk of con­tract­ing the H1N1 virus to stay away from vac­ci­na­tion clin­ics.

Cana­dian health of­fi­cials also con­tin­ued Fri­day to de­bate whether par­ents with young chil­dren have to re­turn for a sec­ond dose of vac­cine af­ter all, be­cause the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion sug­gests one dose is suf­fi­cient.

Canada cur­rently rec­om­mends that chil­dren un­der 10 re­ceive two doses of H1N1 vac­cine, given at least 21 days apart.

Ottawa is also still rec­om­mend­ing that preg­nant women re­ceive the un­ad­ju­vanted ver­sion of the vac­cine, de­spite a WHO rec­om­men­da­tion that preg­nant women should feel free to use vac­cine con­tain­ing ad­ju­vant.

Cana­dian Press photo

Peo­ple lineup to get their H1N1 vac­ci­na­tion Fri­day in St. Eus­tache, Que. Wait­ing times of seven hours were com­mon as vac­ci­na­tion cen­tres were over­whelmed by the de­mand.

Cana­dian Press photo

Health Min­is­ter Leona Aglukkaq lis­tens to chief pub­lic health of­fi­cer Dr. David But­ler-Jones dur­ing a news con­fer­ence to pro­vide an up­date on the H1N1 flu virus in Ottawa Fri­day.

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