Ottawa residents who need it most can get their pandemic H1N1 flu vaccines at city clinics as early as Monday.

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) announced yesterday that the city receives its first shipment of the H1N1 vaccine this week, after the federal government approved the vaccine for use in Canada earlier in the day.

Canadian clinical trials of the vaccine are still underway, but the federal regulator was satisfied enough with the results of thousands of clinical trials in Europe to approve the drug in Canada.

“This authorization was arrived at independently and on the basis of sound health science,” said Dr. Elwyn Griffiths, head of the section of Health Canada that regulates vaccines.

Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. David Butler-Jones said tests have shown people are more than 90 per cent immune to H1N1 after a single shot.

“We now have a safe and effective vaccine being distributed to provinces and territories that they will be rolling out in a matter of days,” said federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq.

“With 37,000 doses arriving in Ottawa by the end of the week, and another shipment of a similar amount of material expected early next week, that’s enough vaccine for Ottawa Public Health to begin providing free pandemic flu vaccinations at citywide clinics to Ottawa residents who need it the most beginning on Monday, Oct. 26,” said Ottawa medical officer of health Dr. Isra Levy.

Still, 74,000 doses is a limited supply, he said.

Because of this, OPH will focus on providing vaccines to people with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, healthy children between six months and five years old and health-care workers at five fixed vaccination sites across the city.

The federal government aims to ship about three million doses a week for Canada’s largest-ever immunization campaign as the vaccine rolls off the production line.

Though it originally said it would only buy vaccines containing adjuvants — or compounds that boost the immune system’s response to vaccine, allowing for smaller doses — the federal government later ordered 1.8 million doses of vaccine that does not contain adjuvants for pregnant women and young children.

 

WITH FILES FROM THE CANADIAN PRESS