WINNIPEG -- The down and out along Main Street got a hot breakfast Tuesday morning at the Siloam Mission and followed it with a shot of the H1N1 vaccine.
The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority worked with Siloam to set up a clinic, one of a possible 30 such clinics the WRHA will hold specifically for disadvantaged individuals.
"I was beat up pretty bad a couple of weeks ago and I figured with the shape I’m in right now, if I get (H1N1), I’d probably be dead," Maxie Arnott, 59, said after he was the first at Siloam to get the shot.
The clinic is part of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority initiative to counter the spread of the H1N1 virus.
"We know the virus is in Winnipeg and if we can get enough people vaccinated, we believe we can keep the number of infected people down," Dr. Sande Harlos, a WRHA medical officer of health, said.
The WRHA had run similar clinics across the city for the seasonal flu in locations close to the city’s disadvantaged and approached those spots again when the H1N1 virus became available.
"We jumped at the opportunity to have the clinic here," Kari Enns, director of Siloam Missions’s Saul Sair Health Centre, said.
About 95 people received H1N1 vaccines at Siloam Mission by 2 p.m., when the WRHA moved the clinic one block north to the Union Gospel Mission.
The WRHA hopes to immunize between 300 and 500 disadvantaged people weekly.
Celia Young said she wanted the vaccine because she hangs out with many people from the province’s reserves, who seem most vulnerable to contracting the virus.
"Most of the people I hang with don’t know to cough into their shoulder or sleeves," Young, 40, said, adding she was worried about catching H1N1.
Young was one of the few people Tuesday morning at Siloam to suffer an immediate reaction to the H1N1 vaccine, becoming weak and dizzy and seeing stars within seconds of getting the shot.
But she bounced back a few minutes later.
"I feel better knowing that I have it," she said.
Louis Collins, 65, said taking the vaccine makes sense.
"If it’s my time, I’m going to go but I think this shot will help me," Collins said.
Collins said he lives nearby in a Manitoba Housing complex and comes daily to Siloam Mission.
"I’m too lazy to make my own breakfast," he said.
Collins said there’s a great deal of confusing information about the merits and safety of the vaccine, adding however he had no doubts about getting a shot.
"You have to know what you’re doing," Collins said. "A lot of the people who come here don’t understand or can’t read English.
"I’m telling everyone to get the shot."
The WRHA has clinics for the disadvantaged planned for some Main Street hotels, the Remand Centre, some Employment Insurance Assistance offices, and other soup kitchens and missions.