Flu delays deadly: Libs

The Liberals are taking the Harper government to task over its handling of the swine-flu vaccine, saying delays have cost lives.

The Liberals are taking the Harper government to task over its handling of the swine-flu vaccine, saying delays have cost lives.

Liberal MP Bob Rae asked Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq if she realized that people have died — and will die — because of delays in ordering and rolling out the vaccine.

“Does she not understand that these delays have cost, and will cost, lives?” Rae said Thursday.

Industry Minister Tony Clement answered the first two questions for Agluk­kaq, telling the House of Commons that six million doses of vaccine will be delivered by Friday.

“By the end of next week, there will be an additional three million doses for a total of nine million doses for Canadians,” Clement said.

But later, Rae again accused the Tories of foot-dragging. “There are people who, unfortunately, have succumbed to the disease,” he said. “I think it's a reasonable thing to say that if they'd had the vaccine, it's quite possible their lives could have been saved.”

Thousands of Canadians have already been vaccinated since Aglukkaq approved a new H1N1 vaccine late last week — after other countries had already begun vaccinations.

But there have been long lineups, confusion and frustration across the country as people rush to get the vaccine.

Overwhelming demand for the swine-flu shot had the only two vaccination clinics operating in Toronto turning away people early Thursday afternoon. Children's hospitals in Toronto and Ottawa have been swamped recently as worried parents bring in their children over swine-flu concerns.

Officials have asked that only those in high-risk categories — adults with chronic health conditions, pregnant wom­en, and children six months to under five years old — get vaccinated this week. But some lower-risk Canadians are trying to jump the queue.

 
 
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