Tuesday, November 03, 2009

On Vaccinations, the Soviet Union, and Chickens

Don Braid writes in the Calgary Herald:

Only Alberta has been forced to close all vaccination clinics for four full days. It's still a mystery why our authorities decided to go for mass immunization rather than the more controlled approach adopted by most other provinces.

But there is a clue in Health Minister Ron Liepert's comment last week about avoiding "Soviet mode."

He was talking about his distaste for asking people to prove they're high risk in order to get a shot. But the minister soon got exactly what he dreads--a classic Soviet-mode breakdown.

The symptoms are familiar to anyone who spent time in the old Soviet Union.

First, you line up to get something the government controls by monopoly.

Everyone shuffles along in perfect communal equality --the healthy along with the sick, the pregnant, the very young and the very old.

Hours or days later you finally reach the front of the line, only to learn that somebody else got your chicken.

Then they close the line until some undisclosed date when distant central authorities can produce and deliver more chickens.

The swine flu lines went through all those stages last week. Toward the end, parts of Calgary looked like some dreary Moscow street corner in 1975.
As Liberal MLA Dave Taylor put it, Liepert is "sucking and blowing" at the same time.

Meanwhile, the chickens have not come home to roost yet since no one's been fired for the mishandling of this colossal mess.

The Alberta government is set to announce a revised plan for restarting its vaccination program this week after suspending it over the weekend.


Don Martin asks where those 6 million doses are.

MPs held an emergency H1N1 debate on Monday nite. I'd wager that people interested in medical drama tuned into House on the teevee instead.

Speaking of mass confusion:

Children from 6 months to 9 years old should still get two doses, about a month apart, Dr. Fauci said. But the first dose usually provides partial protection, meaning a child might still catch the flu but would be more likely to have a mild case.

The World Health Organization last week recommended one dose of vaccine for all children, but the United States is ignoring that advice. The organization’s primary goal is to make sure that the world’s vaccine supplies stretch as far as possible among the world’s children. It endorses vaccine-stretching adjuvants and favors one dose per child so more children can get one.

Federal health officials, by contrast, are trying to make sure that American children are fully protected first. They have also decided not to use adjuvants, even though they think they are safe, because anti-vaccine lobbyists have campaigned against them, calling them dangerous, and officials feared that some Americans would be scared away from being vaccinated.
One dose? Two doses? What's right for kids when it comes to H1N1 vaccine?


Alberta's Vaccinations Will Resume on Thursday, Nov 5

H1N1 High Risk Targeted Immunization

Due to the unexpected national shortage of the H1N1 vaccine, Alberta Health Services and Alberta Health and Wellness announced plans to begin targeted immunization of Albertans at high risk.

* Starting on Thursday, November 5, children aged 6 months to under five years as of November 1st will be targeted. Proof of age (Health Care card, birth certificate or other valid identification) must be provided.
* On Friday, November 6, the program will expand to include pregnant women.

At this time, the vaccine will not be available to other Albertans. When more vaccine becomes available from the manufacturer, the targeted immunization program will be further expanded to include people under 65 with chronic health conditions. Details will be announced as more information becomes available on the vaccine supply.
Alrighty. Well, I still have lupus and I'm still high-risk with no available vaccination in sight. Great.

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