Sunday, November 1, 2009

Letter to the Alberta Health Minister: H1N1 Vaccine Fail

Dear Ron Liepert, Health Minister for Alberta,

I am sitting here compiling a list of everything I am going to need for the next few weeks.

- Groceries and toiletries for 4 people.
- Six hundred diapers and wipes.
- Ten gallons of milk.
- Toys, games, crafts and dvds to keep us entertained.
- Vitamins to stay healthy.
- Hand sanitizer. Lots.

I will need these things because yesterday you announced there was no more H1N1 vaccine - that it had run out, before I was able to get to a clinic with my two young children. And therefore I will be avoiding taking my two little children to public places and will instead be staying home.

Hopefully more vaccine will be available soon, given that six months ago the results of a poll stated that between 48-55% of Albertans intended on getting the vaccine. To date only 10% of Albertans have been vaccinated.

And you did promise that everyone could have the vaccine. Remember?

You opened four clinics in Calgary last Monday. Four clinics. To serve more than 1 million people.

And it soon became clear there was no strategy in place to give priority to high risk individuals, despite Alberta's pandemic plan, which clearly states high risk people should be vaccinated first.

I did not take my children last week, because queuing with two children under the age of three for anywhere between two and seven hours would not have been possible. Instead I arranged for my husband to take a few hours off work next week, in the hopes that the queues would be shorter by then.

But then last night, I learned from a friend on Twitter that you had decided to close all Alberta clinics.

Some people are a bit upset by this.

Understandable if you think about it: Albertans have been stirred
into a swine flu fearing frenzy for the better part of the year. Then, when the clinics finally opened, they were too few and poorly managed. And high risk people were not given priority. And then, with little warning, they were closed.

So yes, people are pissed.

Your response was
"All I can point to is the fact we have 10 per cent of our population vaccinated, including all of those high risk categories, and we're not even into November yet."

I would be willing to place a wager that not all high risk categories have been vaccinated.

In the mean time, please send all the above supplies to me. Because there is no more vaccine for now. So I am going to be here, in my house with my two restless children, avoiding public places. Avoiding the flu that you spent so long telling me I needed to protect my family from.

And next time, perhaps after you have spent so many months whipping up public fear, you could have a little more foresight in your planning.

Yours sincerely,

Lady Mama

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That Girl39 said...

The whole swine flu thing is scary isnt it? Am trying not to think about it too much but the media don't help sometimes. I keep thinking we should stock up on essentials in case we get a bigger wave this winter. Anyhoo... on a more cheerful note, theres an award for you at mine lovely lady! x

Tiffany said...

It's infuriating, isn't it?! I posted on this last week, how I can't find the regular flu vaccine anywhere. I too have two small children and am so worried.

ps- stop by my blog after noon today, i have an award for you.

Loukia said...

God, I am so sorry for you guys. That SUCKS. I hate this whole thing SO much. I am scared out of my mind about this flu, even though most cases are mild... and even though we all got the vaccine last week. I kept my kids home this weekend - we didn't go anywhere except to play outside and to my parents house - b/c I wanted the vaccine to 'kick in' and start working. It's suppose to take up to 10 days for it to work. I also kept my son home from school on Friday and today. I'm hoping to send him tomorrow. Hope it is the right decision. And as for the shortage of vaccines... that just sucks. I know more are coming, even this week. Hopefully you'll be able to get your kids vaccinated SOON!!! I wouldn't be worried about going to the grocery store with them, just clean the cart and their hands. I feel terrible for all the moms who have no choice but to bring their children to the clinics to wait in line for hours on end. I felt terrible when I saw this last week... there has to be a better way, you know? SIGH. This sucks. Good luck to you guys...

Sparkless said...

That does suck! You know what is worse? That clinics for our area haven't even started yet! High risk people are supposed to get their vaccines late this week and if I'm really lucky I may be able to get my 11 and 13 year old vaccinated sometime, no idea when as they aren't in a high risk category. My husband works in the hospital so he'll get his late this week. I most likely won't even see a clinic that will accept healthy adults until Dec. or Jan.
Too bad they hyped the "get your H1N1 shot" so much that people are in a frenzy over it. And that washing your hands thing may help but it most certainly isn't 100% effective.
I'm doing my Christmas shopping online. Lucky for me I live in a small town so there's nowhere to go anyway.

..... Carmen said...

Here here! I say you actually submit this letter. Did you know supposedly more will be released in a few weeks time, JUST for high risk? The ridiculous part, he was quoted as saying there was no way for them to ascertain who was high risk or not as it would go against health rights. So how, may I ask, are they going to ascertain, in a few weeks time, who is, or who isn't high risk. Perhaps the Canadian government shouldn't have allowed each province to decide how to administer. From what I hear, BC has it right. Can Albertans who are high risk, cross the border and pay for the vaccine, then get it reimbursed here, thanks to AB's screw up? I would hope so, but doubtful I realize.

JennyRE said...

Well written, Sarah. You expressed many of the feelings I've been having...when we were standing in line for the 7 hours to get our shots (along with an 11 month old and 3 year old) I kept thinking - so these "high risk people" that they're so encouraging to get the vaccine first (without establishing it as a rule) - how on earth do they expect the hugely pregnant and the teeny tiny babies to endure this kind of lineup? It'd be laughable if it wasn't actually involving real people...and their health.

EatPlayLove said...

Information is all over the place here in Colorado. Our Dr is only vax high risk patients. I wish everyone would just get on the same page and make life easier. I heard here that it's going to take a few weeks to get clinics, etc open. I hope things change for you!

Lady Mama said...

That Girl39 - stocking up on essentials might not be a bad idea...

Tiffany - it is, infuriating and worrying. Hope you get things sorted too.

Loukia - I'm sure you made the right choice for your family. And yes I agree, there must be a better way than the current delivery system.

Sparkless - all the hype is, I think, what's made the situation so chaotic. Hope you can get yours sorted soon.

Carmen - my feeling is that if they told everyone high risk people were priority, then most non high risk people would stay away. I think most people are decent. And that way at least they would be starting on the right track.

Jenny - yes, they should have been able to deliver to their promise - high risk first, everyone else second. 2 friends, heavily pregnant, queued up last week for 2-4 hours each, also with their toddlers. I couldn't face it at all.

EatPlayLove - Thanks, yes it would be helpful if everyone was on the same page. I think the mixed messages and the confusion are adding to the panic hugely.

Juli Ryan said...

Down under, we have lived through the swine flu epidemic already. I think you'll be okay. I really loate the way the media tries to drum up the public's fears.

Deb said...

I feel very fortunate that I was able to vaccinate both of my kids this week, even though two hours in line with a one- and two-year-old was about as trying as it gets, even with my husband there to help.

I hope the vaccine becomes available to you soon. Congrats on your TV spot!

LZ @ My Messy Paradise said...

it's crazy, isn't it? We can't get it here, either. I hear about so many people getting it, but wonder where. My doctor doesn't have it. My town clinic keeps getting postponed. Bizarre and so irresponsible. Kids are supposed to get it first, so yours should be a priority!