Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

35% of us vaccinated for H1N1

Shot only available at doctors' offices now

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THE proportion of Manitobans vaccinated against H1N1 flu is on par with Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta, slightly behind Saskatchewan and way behind the Atlantic provinces.

In New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador, about two-thirds of the population have already been vaccinated.

In Manitoba, Alberta and Ontario, it's closer to one-third. British Columbia sits at 40 per cent and Saskatchewan's 50 per cent leads the West. Although Winnipeg's H1N1 mass vaccination clinics have now closed, the number of Manitobans getting the needle continues to steadily climb.

As of Dec. 15, more than 430,000 Manitobans had been vaccinated, about 35 per cent of the province's population.

"We're still seeing a number of people coming in to doctors' offices to get their vaccinations," said Dr. Joel Kettner, Manitoba's chief provincial public health officer.

He said rural and more sparsely populated communities were initially given higher priority, which might be one reason the Atlantic provinces had higher vaccine uptake.

Kettner would ideally like every eligible Manitoban to get vaccinated.

"I realize that Manitobans have a variety of different reasons for why they are choosing not to get the vaccine," Kettner said. "But this time of year, when people are indoors and meeting new people, it's even more important to get vaccinated."

He notes that a belief the vaccine can do more harm than good and a phobia of needles have kept some Manitobans away from the clinics.

With the worst of the cold winter season still ahead of us, Kettner warned the weather could cause a renewed spike in H1N1 cases. The cold climate can exacerbate chronic illnesses and increase the spread of the virus.

Throughout the course of the H1N1 pandemic, Kettner said he's used a variety of analogies to describe the epidemic. Having exhausted hockey and football, he noted that perhaps baseball is the best metaphor for the current H1N1 climate. "In all those other sports, you have time restraints. With baseball, it's over when it's over. These next few months will be a test as to what inning we are in."

britt.harvey@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 17, 2009 A4

History

Updated on Friday, December 18, 2009 at 1:16 PM CST: Anyone who wants an H1N1 vaccination can call (204) 788-8004 to set up an appointment at a Winnipeg Regional Health Authority community-based clinic. Shots are available Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The WRHA is also offering one-day vaccination clinics. Dates and locations are available online at www. wrha.mb.ca. People can also get the shot from their family doctor. Incorrect information appeared in Thursday's paper.

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