Province ends general flu clinics

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Justin Crann
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Those most at risk of H1N1 will be priority

The province is shifting the focus of its flu vaccine clinics to those most at risk of contracting H1N1.

A person receives the H1N1 swine flu vaccine. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Lionel Cironneau)

"Unfortunately, because the global supply of vaccine is limited, we now have to change our approach," said Dr. Denise Werker, Saskatchewan's deputy chief medical health officer, in a press conference Friday.

"We have made a decision to focus our immunization efforts on children under five, pregnant women, and those women who are in the postpartum period. … This has been a very difficult decision to make."

H1N1 is circulating in the province, and is known to circulate amongst children in school and other settings, Werker said.

Through the province's experience with the strain previously, she added, it has noticed that pregnant women are also at risk.

"We want to get the people who are most at risk vaccinated as soon as possible so they are protected," said Werker.

According to Werker, the decision was made after the province exhausted its supply of 280,000 doses.

Though the vaccine is considered among the most effective means of protecting against the flu, only approximately 25 per cent of the population has been immunized.

We want to get the people who are most at risk vaccinated as soon as possible so they are protected Dr. Denise Werker

But demand has increased in light of the spread of the virus. As of press time, seven have died and hundreds have tested positive.

Werker said 12,000 additional doses have been acquired by the province and are expected to arrive early next week.

Those doses will be dispensed to the at risk groups on a priority basis, she noted, and the province will revisit its distribution model as the situation develops.

"If we get additional vaccine, which we will find out next week, we will open up the clinics and widen the population depending on what is operationally feasible," said Werker. "We will reassess the situation next week."

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Geographic location: Saskatchewan

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