H1N1 clinics will be opened to the general public, as health officials believe priority groups have been served and more vaccine became available. Clinics will continue through next week at least.
“We have five clinics confirmed this week,” said Dr. Hsui-Li Wang, medical officer of health for the Region of Waterloo. “Priority groups have been expanded to include children from six months to 18 years of age (inclusive), and those 65 years and older who suffer from chronic medical conditions.”
Wang also noted that with the implementation of the wristband system, lineups and wait times at the clinics are now minimal.
Four clinics in the region ran this past week, including one Wednesday at Elmira District Secondary School – a session that ran six hours and saw 1,287 visitors pass through.
At this clinic, as well as the clinics happening next week, people were required to verify that they were a part of a high priority group before receiving the vaccine. The current priority groups include:
All children six months to under 19 years of age;
Persons 19 years of age and older (including seniors) with chronic medical conditions (e.g. diabetes, cancer, heart conditions, etc.);
Healthcare workers including first responders – EMS, fire and police;
Household contacts and care providers of persons at higher risk who cannot be immunized (e.g. children under six months of age) or who may not respond to vaccines (e.g. those who are immune-compromised).
Although the clinics continue to be provided to the community, Wang said that it seems as though the flu activity in the area is on the decline.
“We are seeing a decrease in the amount of people who are consulting their doctor about flu symptoms, as well as fewer people in the emergency rooms with flu-like symptoms.”
But that does not mean that it is any less important to get your vaccine, Public Health officials maintain.
“We’d like to encourage people who now are eligible to be vaccinated to contact their family physician, or to attend one of our Public Health community clinics to receive their immunization,” said Wang.
As of Nov. 16, Region of Waterloo Public Health had already distributed 93,000 doses of H1N1 to public clinics, hospitals and physicians’ offices. An additional 28,000 doses were received from the province on Nov. 17 and were being distributed to physicians, as well as supplying flu clinics.
Members of the public are asked to call the health unit’s automated clinic phone line at 519-883-2324 for upcoming clinic dates. For general information about H1N1, the public can call 519-883-2289 or visit the Waterloo Region Pandemic website at www.waterlooregionpandemic.ca. The unadjuvanted vaccine, exclusively for pregnant women, is now available.
Pregnant women are asked to call their physician or the health unit at 519-883-2272 to make an appointment to receive the vaccine.