H1N1 vaccine available to all

H1N1 vaccine is now avail­able to everyone in Wellington and Dufferin Coun­ties.

The Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health an­nounced on Tuesday morn­ing that it would offer the vaccine to all residents, effec­tive immediately.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Nicola Mercer reported, “We will receive 22,000 doses of  H1N1 vaccine today. With this vaccine supply, we are now able to provide H1N1 flu shots to all residents who want it.”

The local roll-out of the vaccine is ahead of provincial plans. The expansion does not change the current promotion of flu shots to elementary school students or plans for secondary school clinics the week of Nov. 26.  Parents can have their shot when they bring their children to a clinic and secondary school staff can get shots at school clinics.

Mercer added, “We have the resources for this expansion and want to make the vaccine available to our residents as soon as possible. We will also provide physicians with more vaccine for their patients. I’m pleased that we can now pro­vide all residents of WDG with protection against H1N1 flu.”

It was only four days earlier that Mercer said in a telecon­ference, “People between the ages of 19 and 65 who are healthy should “have some patience” when it comes to obtaining the H1N1 vacci­nation.”

At that time, the province was expanding the list of eligible recipients, including school age children, first responders (police and fire­fighters) and others that were at a bigger risk of contacting the H1N1 flu.

Ontario was scheduled to have another 470,000 doses of adjuvanted vaccine for distri­bu­tion in the past week, and was eligible to receive an addi­tional 272,500 doses of adju­vanted vaccine later in the week. Along with 375,000 doses of unadjuvanted vaccine received last week, the addi­tion­al supply of vaccine allowed for the expansion of the pro­vince’s H1N1 immu­niza­tion program. 

Provincial officials stated that children have high rates of H1N1 illness. A proportion of all those who become ill, even those without underlying con­di­tions, will suffer some severe complications. Vaccination of that group may reduce trans­mission to the broader popu­lation if high enough coverage rates are achieved.

Provincial officials have noted adults 65 years and older seem to have more protection against getting H1N1 flu than the general public but those with underlying health condi­tions are more vulnerable to serious complications and death if they do contract the dis­ease.

In this area, there have been ten cases where people have been hospitalized with H1N1 flu, and two deaths. There have also been six cases of hospi­talization and one death due to seasonal flu.

Mercer said Public Health officials chose to avoid pro­viding children with flu shots in their elementary schools because of several difficulties. First, it is difficult for parents to attend to be with their children, and, “We cannot hold a child down or restrain them.” She added health care officials also are not permitted to comfort them with a hug.

Further, elementary school children are not permitted to give their consent to get the flu shots.She said because of those restraints, it would be more time consuming to deliver the vaccine in elementary schools.

In high schools, students can give consent and get the shots on their own. Public Health will be vaccinating in those schools in its jurisdiction.

As of Nov. 1 there were 7,118 confirmed cases of H1N1 flu virus reported through the integrated Public Health System