It took seven hours — many of them boring and some of them cold — for Jamie Morales, her two young sons and her father to get the H1N1 vaccine on Thursday.
But the Red Deer mother said it was all worth it to protect her little ones.
“It was a long wait.
“We’re glad it’s over though,” said Morales, on Thursday, shortly after leaving the clinic.
“There were some tough times. I wish it had have been a little bit more well organized. It seemed like there was a lot of waiting around without people actually moving in the line. But other than that it was well worth it. I’m glad we got the shot.”
Morales arrived at the clinic at CrossRoads Church at 8:45 a.m. on Thursday, with her father Juergen Foerderer and her sons Cruz, four, and Diego, three.
She left at 4 p.m.
With temperatures at around minus 8 C and the family waiting outside, she had to head back home in the morning to grab mitts, toques and an extra blanket, leaving her father holding their position in line.
The family spent three hours waiting outside and finally by noon they got inside the building. Morales said they passed the time the best they could, watching TV for an hour when the line-up passed by a couple of them.
Lori Henneigh, public health manager for the central zone of Alberta Health Services, said the clinic went fairly well on Thursday. People had to start being turned away at 3:15 p.m. so staff could help everyone in line. Staff decided to offer primarily the H1N1 vaccine in order to get as many people through as possible. She expected by the end of the day to have had 3,000 people immunized on Thursday. Around 2,750 people were immunized in Red Deer during Monday’s clinic.
Some medical staff are still waiting to get their H1N1 vaccination locally.
“I think we’re well on our way but I don’t believe we’re quite done just yet,” said Gerhard Benadé, medical officer of health with the central zone of Alberta Health Services. “They are certainly one of the priority groups.”
He didn’t know how many medical staff within the central region have been immunized, but he said they are being accomodated in an “as fast as possible manner.”
Benadé wouldn’t say when the worst of the flu is expected to hit.
“I don’t think you’ll find many people willing to make predictions,” he said. “What we do know is right now we are seeing the surge. We can see emergency room visits going up. We know school absenteeism is certainly climbing. We know that more than 20 per cent of the schools have a 10 per cent or greater absenteeism rate.”
At the Red Deer Public School District board meeting, earlier this week, the board heard absenteeism among students at schools was at 17 per cent, compared to a normal time of year when 4 per cent of students might be absent.
Concerns have been raised about seniors not being able to stand in line for the many hours required at the vaccination clinics. Asked if the vaccine might start to be given at senior’s homes, Benadé said at the moment seniors are not within the high risk priority group. He said right now the focus is on priority groups, including pregnant women, children between age six months and five years, individuals under 65 with chronic medical conditions that would make them vulnerable to complications and health-care providers.
“Once we have moved through the high risk priority group the intent is to certainly offer the H1N1 vaccine to all Albertans,” he said. “…Every week we review where we are at and if we find opportunities to do things better than we will certainly do that.”
Benadé said they have been using the public health nursing staff and other staff intially to get the vaccine out, but physician clinics and pharmacists have been approved in principle and as soon as vaccine supplies become available they will be offered the opportunity to participate, which could happen as soon as next week.
Kevin Bredo, pharmacist/owner of the Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy at 3805 Ross St. in Red Deer, is among the 400 pharmacists in the province who hope to offer the H1N1 vaccine. Bredo took a course through the College of Pharmacists and is certified to give injections.
“I don’t plan on having any line-ups because I plan to book appointments,” Bredo said. “The situation I’m in is that I’m trying to run a pharmacy, as well as give flu shots, so I will be booking appointments just to manage the flow.”
He hasn’t yet started booking appointments, but he is taking names and will get back to people once he has more information. He hasn’t heard how many doses he will receive.
A clinic is schedule for the Sundre Community Centre at 310 Centre Street North in Sundre today from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.. The next clinic in Red Deer is set for Nov. 3 at the Westerner’s Harvest Centre at 4847 19 St., between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m.