There’s no shortage of swine flu shots – verbally, that is – at the provincial legislature as opposition parties take repeated jabs at the government’s handling of the H1N1 outbreak.
Liberals and Tories say the province created mass confusion around H1N1 vaccinations by initially trying to vaccinate everyone right off the bat. However, due to overcrowding and supply shortages, vaccinations have now been restricted to high-risk groups.
“If they’re going to put an emphasis on ‘everyone should be vaccinated’ they should have the supply to do it,” said Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil.
Progressive Conservative Leader Karen Casey said the implementation “has fallen apart and that is totally related to poor planning.”
But Health Minister Maureen MacDonald defended her department, claiming the vaccine shortage is due to a problem with the manufacturer, which is a federal issue.
“All we know is there has been a glitch in the production of vaccine for provinces. The vaccine that we would have expected this week won’t be here,” she said.
MacDonald said the province has used up about half of its 160,000 vaccine stockpile. It was expecting to receive more than 50,000 additional shots this week, but will now only get 12,500.
She said she’s very concerned about the province not having enough vaccine to immunize everyone who needs it at present, adding health workers were doing their best in the meantime.
“My hat’s off to the health care workers in those clinics,” she said. “They’ve had to work long hours, they’ve had to deal with very large turnouts, they’ve had to deal with people who are understandably frustrated because of the lines.”