Catching up on flu vaccines

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The first death brought on by complications from the H1N1 virus took place in Newfoundland this week. Now there’s a panic on due to a shortage of the flu vaccine and people wanting to get this shot.

According to government, to date, there have been 109 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza, the majority of which have been H1N1.

There have been 17 hospitalizations and seven admissions to intensive care. In comparison, there were 259 cases of influenza, 88 hospitalizations, 11 admissions to intensive care, and five deaths at the same time last year.

The problem seems to be that, nationally, interest in vaccine is far higher than available supply.

Provincial Health minister Susan Sullivan said more vaccine is expected in the province over the coming days and weeks.

Those most at risk, children under five years of age and pregnant woman, will be the first to receive the 40,000 vaccines that are on their way.

While that’s as it should be, the province should have had more doses of vaccine on hand than the 130,000 on the first uptake.

While that seems like a large number, there are a lot more people in this province than that.

Of course, there are some people who will procrastinate about getting the flu vaccination and then go into panic mode when they hear of the number of cases piling up — especially now that one person has died.

There was a big scare some years back with the H1N1 and a full-scale vaccination program took place at that time.

People were told to also take other measures to prevent the spread of flu.

Those included washing hands regularly, coughing or sneezing into a sleeve and staying home when you are sick. Those measures still apply today and should be practised on a regular basis, especially during flu season.

Liberal MHA Andrew Parsons said the province should have been better prepared to warn the public about H1N1 and there is some credence in those words.

The province should have had more vaccines the first time around and not be playing catch up on this now.

Geographic location: Newfoundland

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