Alberta Health Services has suspended all H1N1 mass vaccination clinics until further notice due to inadequate supply of the vaccine, with the available doses to be used only for “greatest risk groups.”
A statement from the ministry said on Saturday, Oct. 31 “Targeted H1N1 vaccination efforts will resume early next week focusing only on those at greatest risk. This includes pregnant women; children six months to less than five years of age; people under 65 with chronic health conditions; people living in remote and isolated communities; and health care workers.”
A statement issued later on Tuesday, Nov 3 said starting Thrusday, Nov 5, first children aged 6 months to under five years would be vaccinated first, and they would be followed by pregnant women the next day.
“The demand for the H1N1 vaccine during the first week of the immunization campaign was tremendous. To date we have vaccinated more than 300,000 Albertans. However, we cannot continue to address that level of demand with the expected reduction in the vaccine shipment next week. It is imperative that we focus on the most vulnerable with the vaccine we currently have on hand and with the smaller than expected amount arriving,” Health Alberta said.
Although no specific figures were available for Stettler, over 23,000 people were inoculated in central Alberta last week according to a health media official serving the former David Thompson Health Region.
H1N1 flu clinics in Stettler are scheduled for Stettler Community Hall on Nov. 5 (1 to 7:30 p.m.). Nov. 6 (12 noon to 6 p.m.) Nov. 16 and 17 (1 to 7:30 p.m.).
Other clinics in the region are scheduled for Big Valley Seniors Centre on Nov. 4 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, Byemoor Seniors Centre on Nov. 9 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon and at Donalda and District Museum on Nov. 13 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon.
There has so far been no announcement cancelling those clinics.
Latest information on clinics can be obtained at www.albertahealthservices.ca
“We will do high-risk categories first such as pregnant women, children under 10 years old, healthcare workers, and anyone with chronic conditions,” said clinic coordinator Karen Murray, a public health nurse based at Stettler Hospital and Care Centre.
To get vaccinated, people are required to bring their Alberta healthcare card and their patience, said Murray.
“Individuals at high risk for influenza-related complications are encouraged to get their H1N1 vaccination as soon as possible,” said Dr. Gerry Predy, senior medical officer of health for Alberta Health Services.
“Vaccination is the best defense against influenza and Alberta Health Services is committed to vaccinating every Albertan who wants the H1N1 vaccine, as efficiently as possible,” said Predy
To stop the virus from spreading, health officials urge everyone to wash hands and use hand sanitizer often and thoroughly, cover their cough and sneeze or cough into their elbow or arm – not your hand.
As with a normal influenza, the symptoms of H1N1 include fever, fatigue, lack of appetite, coughing and sore throat and some people have even reported vomiting and diarrhea.
Influenza usually starts with the sudden onset of a fever, headache, cough, sore throat and muscle aches and most people recover from influenza in about one week.