By Chris Ferguson
Officials with Ottawa Public Health remain unsure how much H1N1 vaccine they will get in the next shipment, which means the city doesn’t know when it can start opening H1N1 clinics to residents that aren’t in designated priority groups.
“We’re at the mercy of the federal and provincial governments,” said Barre Campbell, Corporate Media Relations Officer for the City of Ottawa.
Dr. Isra Levy, Ottawa’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, will announce Thursday afternoon if there is enough vaccine to expand shots to school-aged children, who are next on the priority list. On Monday Levy told reporters that lines at clinics were drying up, and the priority groups — which include children up to age six — had likely been vaccinated.
But it won’t be clear until Thursday if there’s enough vaccine to go around. Levy said Monday that the city had only a few more days worth of the vaccine.
The federal minister of health, Leona Aglukkaq, and David Butler Jones, the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, told reporters Tuesday that 8.5 million doses of the vaccine were expected to roll out across the country next week. As some rural and remote communities who received more of the vaccine finish up vaccinating their populations, more should become available for urban areas.
“We’re anticipating much larger amounts per week,” said Butler-Jones. “We should be able to immunize everyone before the end of December.”
In response to a question about Nova Scotia officials saying they might not be able to vaccinate everyone in that province until February, Butler-Jones said he anticipates more and more doses to arrive in provinces each week — over three million in total.
“Certainly if everyone counted on only what they got last week, then that would be a challenge but that’s not the case,” he said.
Officials from the Ministry of Health couldn’t be reached to confirm how much Ottawa can expect in the next shipment.