WINNIPEG - Manitoba’s top health officials today said they’ve so far ruled out adding teenagers to the priority list of getting the H1N1 flu vaccine and holding immunization clinics in the province’s schools.
Dr. Joel Kettner, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer and Gerry Delorme of Manitoba Health and Healthy Living, said the province will stick to its plan to immunize those already chosen to be at highest risk of severe illness and death to H1N1 at already established clinics.
But Kettner added those plans could change quickly depending on the spread of the flu and whether more of the already-limited vaccine is made available.
"We’re going to follow the program until we have enough evidence to change it," Kettner said. "One thing we really don’t want to do, and I don’t think Manitobans would thank us if we did, was every time there was a single event, that we changed our program.
"I don’t think it would be helpful. I don’t think it would be wise."
He added as of Tuesday, 38,476 Manitobans have got the H1N1 shot.
The province has so far received 134,000 doses of the H1N1 vaccine with 72,000 additional doses to arrive likely by the end of the week.
Kettner’s briefing Wednesday afternoon comes in the wake of the recent deaths of two Ontario children from the pandemic flu virus.
Evan Frustaglio, a 13-year-old hockey player from Toronto, died Monday barely a day after falling sick and 10-year-old Vanetia Warner of Cornwall died Saturday after being ill for several days.
In Manitoba, there has been 19 new cases of labratory-confirmed cases of H1N1 as of Oct. 26, bringing the total number confirmed since Oct. 1 to 32. No one has died and the 19 new cases did not require intensive care treatment. In the first wave of the flu virus last spring, seven people died.
Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative Leader Hugh McFadyen today called on the province to consider stepping up its H1N1 vaccination program by taking it to the province’s schools. Many schools in the United States launched their own school-based vaccination programs this week with many following next week.
McFadyen also said the province and its heath officials should be doing more about what parents can do to protect their children.
"As somebody who has a five-year-old and a seven-year-old it’s a live issue for discussion with our family and I think it’s certainly an issue for many families around Manitoba," he said.
Kettner said health officials are at this stage are only discussing the possibility of a school-based vaccination program.
"Every province is struggling over this," he said. "We’ll do what we think we need to do to best serve the Manitoba public health needs."