Region’s H1N1 shots on track

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by Mark Burgess on November 5, 2009

As long as people don’t bud in line

Nov. 4 front page

Nov. 4 front page

The Centre de sante et de services sociaux (CSSS) des Collines will begin its priority group vaccinations Nov. 4,

hoping that concerned residents abide by the schedule in the wake of the Outaouais’ first death of the flu’s second wave.

After the lineups and shortages in larger centres last week forced health workers to turn people away, CSSSC assistant director general Camille Spain said her organization wanted to avoid asking patients for proof that they belonged to a priority group, but that question was being reviewed at a Nov. 3 meeting.

Women more than 20 weeks pregnant and children between six months and five years of age are eligible to receive the vaccine Nov. 4 and 5 in Val-des-Monts. Health care workers, firemen, police, dentists, pharmacists and other front-line workers received the vaccine Oct. 28 and 29.

Other clinics in the area, including those in Papineau, Gatineau, Pontiac and Vallee-de-la-Gatineau, are already accepting a broader priority group that includes all pregnant women, people with chronic illnesses and people living with babies under six months or with people suffering from deficient immune systems. The CSSSC won’t get to that group until Nov. 10.  A 26-year-old woman with chronic health problems died Oct. 31, the Outaouais’ first death of the flu’s second wave.

Spain said her team is small and working within its own capacity to vaccinate, proceeding week-by-week according to the ministry’s itinerary.

“If people from another group come it’s certain we won’t have enough vaccine,” she said, adding that clinics won’t have enough staff to accommodate a larger-than-expected group either, as the numbers for each priority group are calculated in advance.

New CSSSC Director General Andre Desile said the first group went smoothly and he expects to avoid the chaotic lines witnessed elsewhere in the country.

“I think we should avoid comparisons. It’s not the same reality” he said, adding that the people who showed up Oct. 28 were the ones scheduled, which he expects to remain the case.

He said the region is on schedule and will have sufficient supplies of the vaccine to meet its weekly needs. Spain said 1,300 people will be able to receive the vaccine each day in Masham, and 990 in Val-des-Monts, once those clinics are open.

As of Nov. 1, there were 221 confirmed cases of H1N1 in the Outaouais region since Aug. 30, 24 of which required hospitalization. The region is one of the most afflicted in the province, with 84 confirmed cases between Oct. 18 and 24.

Pregnant women and children first

The CSSS des Collines vaccination clinic for women more than 20 months pregnant and children between six months and five years old will be held Nov. 4 and 5 in the Salle J.A. Perkins at 17 Manoir Rd in Val-des-Monts.

All pregnant women, people with chronic diseases such as asthma and diabetes, and people living with children under six months or with immune system deficiencies will be eligible for priority vaccinations beginning Nov. 10. This second priority group can receive the A(H1N1) shot in Masham from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 10-12, and in Val-des-Monts at the same times from Nov. 17-19.

Vaccinations for the general population will begin Nov. 24. Masham and Val-des-Monts will alternate as hosts of the vaccination clinics, which will be open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Minister visits Wakefield hospital

Minister Yves Bolduc was at the Wakefield Memorial Hospital Oct. 29, after two days of vaccinations had been delivered to health care and first-response workers, saying he was pleased with the early stages of the vaccination program.

Bolduc visited at the urging of MNA Stephanie Vallee, who campaigned for inter-regional equity for the CSSS des Collines. Spain said the minister recognized the Collines’ lack of funding, as it’s only equipped to serve 17,000 people when it receives almost twice that number.

Bolduc said he would welcome a new plan that would be worked out with the Agence de la sante et des services sociaux de l’Outaouais.

ER visits up

CSSSC assistant director general Camille Spain said the Wakefield hospital emergency ward was getting busier as the flu’s second wave progresses, with 123 people showing up Oct. 28 (the average number of emergency visitors is 80) but that it has quieted down again since. She expects mid-November to be the peak for the second wave.

Quebec’s health ministry recommends that people refrain from going to emergency unless, in addition to a fever, they are having trouble breathing, have blue lips, are feeling confused or disoriented or haven’t urinated in 12 hours.

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