Province will prioritize people most at risk to H1N1
The W.G. Davies Building was the busiest place in the city during its flu vaccination clinic Friday morning.
© Austin M. Davis
The FHHR had to close its influenza immunization clinic after more than 300 showed up for their flu shots Friday. The province has announced it will now prioritize groups most at risk of contracting H1N1.
By Justin Crann and Austin M. Davis
"At our office this morning, the crowd was lined up out of the door," said Dr. Mark Vooght, chief medical officer with the Five Hills Health Region (FHHR). "We were glad that we were able to satisfy most people."
More than 300 Moose Javians turned up to receive their flu shot, according to multiple sources, but not everyone left with what they came for after the clinic ran out of vaccine.
"Staff were able to distribute a number to everyone who was in the line-up, up to where the volume of our vaccine extended," said Vooght. "After that last number, we had to turn people away. … Fortunately we were able to accommodate the vast majority of the people who were in the line-up."
Debbie Huber, who was waiting in line, said she had already received her flu shot but that she was bringing her two daughters to get theirs.
Her daughters were among those to receive their vaccinations.
"(The health region) ran out on Monday, so I had to bring them back today," she said.
Huber said she wasn't very concerned about the shortage, because "(the province) will find some. They'll get everybody done."
Demand for the vaccine has increased as reports have surfaced from various media outlets about H1N1 — especially regarding how it has impacted children — Vooght said.
"There is more talk about influenza in general, and we know now that this H1N1 strain appears to be affecting young children in particular, among others," said Vooght.
Janice Thoroughgood was among those who turned up because of the risk of H1N1, she said.
"I drove by and I had my five-year-old with me. She got her shot on Monday, so I quickly dropped her off at my parents' and came back," she said. "I just made it."
Vooght couldn't confirm whether FHHR would consider clinics specifically for affected groups when it does receive additional vaccine.
"That is something all health regions are looking at," said Vooght. "Whatever we do, it will be standardized across the province and will be at the direction of the Ministry."
By Noon on Friday, the Ministry of Health confirmed in a release that it would be "focusing vaccination efforts only on children under five years of age and pregnant women."
According to Vooght, those who did not receive their shots were told to follow local media for announcements of future clinics.
He added FHHR will announce when those future clinics will be held after it is advised by the province when it will receive the next shipment of vaccines.
"We'd like to be able to offer clinics, but we need to have the information about the availability of vaccine, first," said Vooght.