Opposition health critics challenged the province yesterday to admitthe response to last year’s mumps outbreak was inadequate, butofficials continue to maintain the spate was handled effectivelyoverall.
Opposition health critics challenged the province yesterday to admit the response to last year’s mumps outbreak was inadequate, but officials continue to maintain the spate was handled effectively overall.
“Thank goodness it was only the mumps — what if it had been something a lot more serious?” Dave Wilson, health critic for the Liberal party, said.
Wilson was one of several critics who grilled Department of Health Promotion and Protection officials at a legislature committee hearing yesterday on the findings of the auditor general’s report.
When Jacques Lapointe tabled his semi-annual report in February, he said the mumps outbreak was “handled in a manner that simply wasn’t sufficient,” citing deficiencies in communication with the public, planning, vaccine transportation and immunization practices.
Chief public health officer Dr. Robert Strang acknowledged the validity of the recommendations, but defended the actions the department took to contain the outbreak, which primarily affected post-secondary students.
To address the concerns surrounding communication in preparation for a possible pandemic, Strang says the department has increased its staff, and is working to strengthen relationships with district health authorities and the Department of Health.
The department is also preparing to open a new vaccination storage facility in Burnside next month, which will increase capacity.
Much of the criticism yesterday focused on the province’s failure to immunize health care workers in a timely manner. It took two months to develop a plan, and only 40 per cent of workers updated their vaccinations.
“We have a lot of work to do around immunization records of our health care workers,” Strang said, stressing it was not immediately clear health care workers were at risk.