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This article was published 23/10/2018 (697 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Preparing for a family reunion in Mexico, Glenn Ismond decided to call the specialized travel clinic run by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority to get any vaccinations he needed.
Turns out Ismond's first trip will be to another clinic. And he won't be the only Manitoban going elsewhere for travel shots.
Ismond says he won't be getting his shots at the Travel Health and Tropical Medicine Services clinic because of a nursing shortage there.
"It surprised me very much," Ismond said on Tuesday.
"When I phoned them in May they said they only take appointments two months in advance, but when I called (on Monday) they said they don't have enough nurses so you'll have to go to another clinic.
"Why is this clinic in business if they can't predict how many nurses they need?"
The clinic, at 490 Hargrave Ave., saw 6,075 visits in 2015-16, 7,375 in 2016-17, and 6,911 in 2017-18.
Both Lori Lamont, the WRHA's acting chief operating officer and vice president nursing and health professionals, and Carolyn Perchuk, regional director of population and public health, admit there is a nursing shortage at the clinic – and there's no quick fix.
But Lamont said the shortage isn't due to any shortage of nurses in the province, but a lack of those with new training that's now required.
On May 1, the new Regulated Health Professions Act came into force, requiring nurses who work in the specialized clinic giving vaccines and handing out advice to now take specific courses at Red River College, as well as 160 hours of a practicum.
It all takes about two years to complete.
Lamont said the act gave the nurses working in the clinic a two-year grace period, where they could continue there without the new training, but the shortage happened when some opted to leave instead.
Perchuk said the clinic's nursing staff won't be back to full strength until at least May 2020.
"It will take almost that long," she said.
"We are putting patients into priority. It is one of the only clinics that can give the yellow fever vaccine so we will continue to give that."
Perchuk, who said people needing shots for malaria will also be allowed in, said "it really depends on where you are travelling" whether the clinic will book an appointment for a person or, if it is a shot for something like Hepatitis A or B, advise them to go to their own physician.
While it doesn't help people now, both say that with the medical professionals getting specialized training, Manitobans can be confident going to the clinic in future that they will get the right advice and shots they need.
Meanwhile, Ismond said he was able to go to his doctor on Tuesday and get the prescription he needs for his trip - unfortunately he has now been told the Twinrix he needs is out of stock at Manitoba pharmacies until January.
As for the travel clinic, Ismond said "it sounds like it's a step in the right direction. Somebody could be given the wrong shot or advice.
"But unfortunately, it happened to me this year."
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.
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