Too much staff at flu clinics: volunteer

Some frustration continues over the province’s handling of H1N1 flu vaccination clinics, but this time it’s not about the long waits.

Flu administration team leader Angela Wnuk

Some frustration continues over the province’s handling of H1N1 flu vaccination clinics, but this time it’s not about the long waits.

Rae Ing, a volunteer who has helped at several immunization clinics, said the ruling Progressive Conservatives are failing to meet the needs of Central Albertans because now there is too much staff on hand for the few people that are coming in to get a shot.

On Sunday, the Red Deer woman volunteered at the all-day clinic at Red Deer’s Hunting Hills High School. There was no wait.

She said nurses and other health-care workers are staffing these clinics when they should be elsewhere.

“We’re wasting our resources,” Ing said. “They are not needed here.”

Ing blames the provincial super health board for deciding on a one-size-fits-all immunization program for all communities.

“Could they not have someone on site who has the authority to say let’s move this along and bring the next group of people who are eligible (to get vaccinated)?” Ing said.

Last Thursday, the province began targeting children aged six months to five years for the vaccine. Clinics has since included pregnant women.

Don Rattray and his wife Teri of Sylvan Lake attended the Red Deer clinic so they could have their two young children vaccinated. They appreciated easily walking in, considering they had planned to go to a clinic during the high demand.

“It was good for us,” said Rattray.

The targeted clinics for higher-risk groups follow the province’s earlier measures to open clinics to everyone. The mass vaccinations caused waits of up to seven hours in the region.

Angela Wnuk, administrative influenza team leader, said in about three-and-a-half hours on Sunday, nurses gave shots to about 72 pregnant moms and young children.

“It’s been running smoothly, but it’s been slower,” she said. “It’s been a big relief, but we’ve had a lot of staff we’ve had to send home — and we’ve been sending our volunteers home, who contribute a lot to our community.”

Some children older than six were also turned away because they weren’t within the targeted risk group. A caregiver of two small children was also told she couldn’t receive her flu vaccine yet, Wnuk said.

Three H1N1 vaccination clinics will be held this morning for children between six months and five years of age, and pregnant women. Delburne Hall will run one from 12-6 p.m., Olds College Alumni Centre will hold one from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sylvan Lake will host one from 1-7 p.m.

Starting Tuesday, the following high risk groups will become eligible for H1N1 shots: both parents or one parent and one caregiver of infants under six months of age; and children under 10 as of Nov. 1 who have chronic health conditions.

For more clinic information, go online at www.albertahealthservices.ca

Central Alberta’s Safe Harbour Society for Health and Housing opened an emergency shelter on Friday for homeless people who are experiencing flu-like symptoms.

Nine people were using the services on the weekend.

“It’s doing what we needed it to do and that was sheltering people who are sick and don’t have a home,” said executive director Kath Hoffman on Sunday.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com

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