Tuesday, October 27, 2009

H1N1 Vaccination Hysteria

For months, governments and the media have been sounding the loud alarm bell over H1N1 flu - urging people to get vaccinated ASAP. So, it's not like this is a surprise. In Calgary though, apparently it is.

The Alberta government, in its usual (cheaply-driven) wisdom, set up only 4 public clinic locations in Calgary for a population of some one million people. It doesn't exactly take a monkey with a calculator to figure out that those sites might then be slightly overwhelmed with vaccine-seeking people after they've been pounded with pandemic fear-mongering messages since last spring.

And that's what happened, of course.

People in line for 6 hours. 6 hours.

Edmontonians didn't fare any better.

"The response is certainly good, and we're glad to see that," said Gerry Predy, senior medical officer of health for Alberta Health Services.

"Now we have to find ways to streamline things if we can."

Eventually that might mean extending the hours of some clinics, getting patients to fill in paperwork while waiting in line, or bringing in more staff, but Predy said it's too soon to tell.

In the meantime, he pleaded for patience and suggested people bring books to read while waiting.
I'll tell you what, Dr Gerry Predy: you try waiting in line reading a book for hours on end when you're one of those high-risk people who are sick and sore to begin with and who should have been given quick, exclusive access to the vaccination before the general public and then we'll talk.

Predy actually had the audacity to chastise Albertans this morning, saying that those who weren't high-risk should have let those who are get the shots first.

That's not how these clinics were advertized by your department, Dr Predy. It was come one, come all.

I have lupus. I'm immune-compromized. I've gone back and forth on getting this shot since it hasn't been fully tested. I couldn't get into Calgary to stand in line in the frigid temps on Monday and I don't know when I'll get my shot. I wouldn't have gone in anyway. It was obvious that with so few clinic locations there would be problems. There is a city where when the first snowfall hits every year, Calgarians act like they've never seen snow before and proceed to panic on the streets resulting in a few hundred fender-benders - every single time, guaranteed. It's not a stretch to believe that attitude would apply to this situation as well - and it has. I'll talk to my doctor (who apparently doesn't have the vaccine to give me) about it when I see him on Wednesday.

In the meantime, who knows how many people will end up with the swine flu who looked at those lineups and walked away, unwilling to wait?

Yeah - that's health care you can count on, isn't it?

And don't even get me started on how Steve and the feds have mishandled this swine flu mess.

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