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H1N1 clinics filled to capacity

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WINNIPEG - If you're not reading this story on a mobile device while waiting in line, don't bother heading to an H1N1 immunization clincs today: health officials say they are full to capacity.

Winnipeg Regional Health Authority spokeswoman Heidi Graham said the Winnipeg's 12 flu clinics were filled to capacity by 2:30 p.m. Friday.  They close at 4 p.m. today and are shut down for the weekend, but reopen at 9:30 a.m. Monday morning.

Susan Smid was one of hundreds of Winnipeggers turned away from a crowded H1N1 flu vaccine clinic yesterday evening, so she was bound and determined to be near the front of the line before the sun came up this morning.

"I have some health issues that I have to be careful with," she said. "I made up my mind to be here early. I don't want to have to wait until December. They say it takes two weeks to get into your system and protect you. I want the shot now."

Smid was one of about 25 people waiting near the locked doors of the clinic inside Grant Park Shopping Centre about 7:15 a.m. — more than two hours before the temporary medical facility was even open.

Today is the fifth day for the H1N1 vaccine clinics. Shots are being administered at 12 locations around the city.

Clinics opened their doors this morning at 9:30 a.m. and close at 4 p.m.  Check the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority website at www.wrha.mb.ca for clinic locations.

At the close of clinics last night, almost 55,000 Winnipeggers had received their H1N1 vaccine.

Health officials have pleaded with Manitobans to stick to the priority list and steer clear of the clinics if they are not within one of the high-risk categories — including aboriginal people, children under five and people under 65 with a chronic medical condition.

Pamela Lousmann, a cancer survivor, said for her getting the vaccine was a no-brainer.

"My spleen was removed two years ago because of the cancer. My doctor told me, 'Get your butt over there.' I had to be innoculated," she said, sipping her coffee next to Smid. "I have four children... I need to be here for them."

David Kroft suffers from asthma, as do some of his kids. He got to the front of the line at 6:30 a.m., and the rest of his family was coming a bit later in the morning.

Kroft, a lawyer in the city, said participating in a mass vaccination is something he never imagined doing.

"This is all new to my generation," he said. "This is just not part of our psyche. It's the first time we've ever had to deal with something like this before."

Health officials said yesterday the province could run out of the H1N1 vaccine early next week, and it could be a day or two before another shipment arrives

Kroft said he remains hopeful all Manitobans are respecting the priority list.

"I look down the line and all I see are friendly faces. I believe the majority of people understand the situation, and that the honour system will work out," he said.

jason.bell@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Friday, October 30, 2009 at 2:40 PM CDT: Adds information about clinics full to capacity.

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