Goal is to get everyone to take the jab before Christmas
Thursday, Oct 15, 2009
Despite national polls indicating that only one third of Canadians intend to get the H1N1 flu vaccine, a Federal Health Minister says it is the government’s goal to vaccinate 100% of the population.
“My goal is to have 100 per cent of Canadians (vaccinated),” chief public health officer Dr. David Butler-Jones told reporters at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.
The minister stated that the vaccine will be rolled out in the first week of November, with the goal of vaccinating everyone by the end of December.
“No step is going to be skipped,” the health minister pledged. Once the vaccine is approved, it will be shipped to the provinces and territories and local health authorities will operate immunization programs.”
Butler-Jones made the statement at a press gathering to announce a funding boost for swine flu research from the federal government in the shape of $2.4 million.
“At the end of the day, it is an individual choice,” he said. “(But) if you don’t want H1N1, get the vaccine.” Butler-Jones urged.
“We’re very fortunate as Canadians to be able to have that choice.” he added
Last week a new Canadian Press Harris-Decima poll indicated that only a third of people in Canada intend to take the shot. That figure is down from 45% in a similar poll conducted in August.
Only 11 per cent of respondents described themselves as very concerned about H1N1.
Butler-Jones scolded a portion of Canadian health workers who have also indicated that they do not intend to get vaccinated:
“Doctors and nurses are not immortal, as much as we might think we are,” he said. “And, unfortunately, if we’re not immunized, and we have influenza, we’ll take it into the nursing home and hospital and, potentially, we’ll kill our patients.”
The concerns of Canadian doctors and Health Workers have been proven justified by a study led by Dr Danuta Skowronski of the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control and Dr Gaston De Serres of Laval University, Quebec. The study found that seasonal flu jabs could double the risk of developing swine flu.
The World Health Organisation has dismissed the research as inconclusive, however some provincial and territorial public health authorities in Canada, including those in Ontario, have expressed great concern, leading to threats to delay or cancel mass vaccination programs.
Canada is to use the adjuvanted GlaxoSmithKline H1N1 vaccine Pandemrix, which contains both squalene and thimerosal, which have been linked with neurological side effects.
Pandemrix has also been “fast tracked” based on research only using “mock up” bird flu vaccines dating from 2007 and 2008.
The Canadian government, like those of the US and the UK, has agreed to protect the producer of it’s H1N1 vaccine from lawsuits over potential side effects.
The majority of cases of swine flu in Canada have turned out to be mild, with the virus having been linked to 79 deaths. The seasonal flu usually kills around 2000 people per year in Canada.
On Wednesday Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper appeared to hedge when asked if he and his family would get vaccinated.
This article was posted: Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 10:21 am