Hundreds of parents and toddlers lined up yesterday for the first day of what promises to be a busy week at Halifax-area H1N1 vaccination clinics.
By 10 a.m., the line at the Dartmouth Sportsplex had stretched around the building. Families came armed with strollers, snacks and storybooks, waiting up to three hours for their turn with a public health nurse.
Provincial officials announced Friday that due to a vaccine shortage, shots would only be available to high-risk groups this week, including pregnant women and children between the ages of six and 59 months.
“It is a difficult situation for people and it’s understandably frustrating,” said Dr. Gaynor Watson-Creed, medical officer of health for the Capital Health district. “For the most part, people understand that this is a shortage that’s happening across the country. We’re doing the best we can.”
Inside the building, many children clinged to stuffed animals and let out tiny screeches as the needle went in. In the end, most parents said the quick pinprick was worth the long wait.
“My son has a heart condition, so I thought it was especially important for him,” said Amanda MacAskill, who brought four-year-old Scott to the clinic. “It is scary.”
MacAskill herself is nine weeks pregnant, but will be waiting another week for the unadjuvanted version of the vaccine – which does not contain a booster component and is now being recommended for women in their first trimester.
According to health experts, H1N1 seems to pose the greatest risk to pregnant women in their second or third trimesters, and they should get the adjuvanted version immediately.
The province has 20,000 doses of the adjuvanted vaccine, which Watson-Creed said will be sufficient to cover the high-risk groups by Friday. After that, the shot will become available to other groups – but officials haven’t decided who is next in line.
“There are ongoing discussions,” Watson-Creed said. “At this point, we’re concentrating on this priority group.”
Correction – Nov. 3, 2009, 1:58 p.m. AST: A previous
version of this story contained incorrect information. Flu vaccines are not being administered at the World Trade and Convention Centre on Nov. 3. Metro regrets the error.