Saturday, October 31, 2009

H1N1 vaccination

At the moment, it looks like the H1N1 vaccination program is a mess. Let's lay aside a discussion of the vaccine supply. After all, the Federal government has purchased enough doses for everyone and the delivery schedule is a factor of the manufacturing process.

So let's concentrate on the factors that we do have some control over. First, there is effective communication as to who gets priority. I've heard different messages from different levels of government, including the municipal, the medical officer of health and the province.

Part of the confusion is how people are treated when they show up for the vaccine. The local news is running stories that the target population is under 5 years of age, but that no child is being turned away. That sends a message that we have no target population, and that it's A-OK to just show up. Federal politician Hedy Fry didn't help when she suggested that Parliament Hill should have its own immunization clinic.

Then there is how the actual implementation is organized. Some people stand in lines for hours. Some are given a ticket with a number. Some pick up extra tickets for family members. Some are told to come back at a certain time.

And by the way, it seems to be a problem that cuts across political divisions. In Ottawa we have a left leaning municipal government, a Liberal provincial government and a Conservative federal government.

There needs to be a single source of information, and a single plan. The plan needs to be clear on how the clinics will be run and who will and will not get the first doses of vaccine (with no exceptions).

By the way, H1N1 is a trial case and we've clearly blown it. The fatality rate of H1N1 is low (I saw 0.5%). If the fatality rate was 5%, we'd be seeing massive social disorder. People can live with a message that they must wait, but they can't live with a message that sometimes line jumpers will be accommodated.

3 Comments:

Blogger Rileysowner said...

Not sure what to make of this. Would it not have been easier to have the vaccine available not only at clinics but through people's own doctors. Yes, a little more distribution time initially, but likely not much, but at the same time it would reduce the amount of time taken per patient as their doctor would have their medical history right there. I frankly don't really understand why they are doing it the way they are.

3:31 PM  
Blogger Shawn Abigail said...

It will be available to family doctors, but there too is problem. The initial plan was to offer it to doctors but only in batches of 500 doses. Apparently this is changing.

There is also discussion over what fee will be paid for doing the vaccination (my doctor charges $10 for a Twinrix shot because it isn't covered by the health care system). Would doctors pay for the vaccine, or receive it free?

And finally, most family doctors are overloaded. If all of their patients make an extra appointment for the H1N1 shot during a 2 week period, will anything else get done?

4:00 PM  
Blogger Rileysowner said...

All good points. However, all their patients will not come for it as many people don't trust vaccines and think the H1N1 thing is hype. Having said that, a combination would have been idea allowing people to choose their options.

10:01 PM  

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