TORONTO — As delivery of H1N1 vaccine to the provinces ramps up this week after an unfortunate slowdown, some public health officials are warning that Canadians shouldn’t decide they can do without vaccine just because they’ve made it this far without a shot.
Though a wave of infection appears to be peaking in some parts of the country and is perhaps past its peak in others, the virus still could have plenty up its sleeve, they say.
In parts of the southern United States where flu activity had started to decline there are signs another upsurge in infections is coming, influenza epidemiologist Lone Simonsen said Sunday.
Simonsen, who is a researcher at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., has done extensive study of the wave patterns of previous pandemics.
“In ’57 … we certainly had a fall wave followed immediately by a winter wave. And then we had the same pattern in 1918,” she says, adding that in the pandemic of 1889, the bulk of the deaths occurred in the third wave.
“It would not be surprising to anyone if there was another wave here this winter.”
New estimates posted online Sunday by the Public Health Agency of Canada say that 1,993,800 of vaccine will be shipped to provinces this week, just under half of which will be without adjuvant. The adjuvant-free product was purchased for use in pregnant women.
While that’s nearly three times as much vaccine as was shipped last week, there is a lag between when vaccine is shipped and when it is in clinics and doctors’ offices. And in a number of places across the country, that means vaccine could be hard to find over the next few days.
Halton Region, west of Toronto, announced Sunday it is postponing clinics until it receives more supplies, though one clinic for pregnant women would be held in Oakville. A number of clinics in New Brunswick have also been postponed, according to the province’s website.
The Public Health Agency estimates suggest that by the end of this week 8,568,200 doses of vaccine will have been shipped to provinces and territories, enough to vaccinate 25 per cent of Canadians.