Ontario to receive fraction of vaccine doses expected
TORONTO — Ontario’s top health officer is warning healthy people to stay away from H1N1 clinics because health units will receive just a fraction of the doses of the vaccine they had been expecting from the federal government.
Dr. Arlene King says the province will receive about 170,000 doses of the adjuvented vaccine and 86,800 doses of the unadjuvented vaccine for pregnant women from the federal government next week — a fraction of the 722,000 doses received in prior weeks.
The announcement came as local health units scrambled to implement systems to make clinics more efficient when they were set to open to the general public on Monday.
But King says clinics across the province and country-wide will remain open only to members of six priority groups.
King says people waiting in queue will be questioned about why they are there to weed out members of the general public who are jumping in line.
She added that in a few weeks the province will have enough vaccine to immunize everyone who wants and needs it.
“If you are not in a priority group please be patient and respect the sequencing. We will not be immunizing people who do not fall under the six priority groups. Wait to get your vaccine once those who will benefit most have received it.”
“Obviously, it would be desir- able to continue to have the supply we had, but I think the strategy we agreed on is the best way right now to mitigate serious illness and death as result of infection of H1N1.”
“For next week we will receive a lower supply of the vaccine than had been originally anticipated due to reduced production by the vaccine’s supplier,” she said.
“For this reason we will focus our immunization efforts exclusively on the priority groups, those people who are most vulnerable to serious outcomes from this flu and those around them.
The vaccine is being shipped to the provinces in stages as it is manufactured, she said, adding that the province never expected to receive its allotment all at once.
King says the roll-out of the vaccine is still weeks ahead of the original schedule.
Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews — who abruptly left the Liberal party’s annual general meeting in Windsor, Ont., today — is flying back to Toronto to speak with King about how the province will deal with the shortage.
King says Ontario’s allotment is expected to increase again “within several weeks,” adding that she believed everyone who wants to be immunized in the province can expect to receive the vaccine by Christmas.
Clinics are being limited to priority groups only all across Canada, as all provinces deal with the dwindling supply issue, King told a news conference in Toronto Friday.