Tempers flare as clinics close

Just hours before the Alberta government temporarily suspended swine flu clinics due to a shortage of vaccine, tempers flared in the lineups that had formed outside clinics in Calgary and Edmonton.

Just hours before the Alberta government temporarily suspended swine flu clinics due to a shortage of vaccine, tempers flared in the lineups that had formed outside clinics in Calgary and Edmonton.

A few profanity-laced arguments could be heard around the entrance of a clinic in southwest Calgary after security officials announced no more patients would be allowed inside. Hundreds had already spent hours waiting in long lineups to be vaccinated.

A man carrying his young son was among the first to be told that he was being turned away and the immunization clinic suspended just after 10 a.m.

“This is the fifth time I’ve tried coming to one of these,” he yelled. “My wife is a (registered nurse) and I have a two-year-old, what are we supposed to do? This is ridiculous.”

By around 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning, about 3,500 people had gathered outside an immunization centre in northeast Calgary before its gates were shut.

Suffering from emphysema and asthma, Ramona Malloy, 65, and husband Mike were among the last people let inside the centre’s yard.

“They need better organization, especially for the elderly, pregnant and the little ones,” said Ramona who needs an oxygen tank to breathe and uses a walker. Children between six months and five-years-old are among the priority groups to receive the shot, according to Alberta Health Services.

Last week, provincial health officials said while they would not turn anyone away, they asked that healthy people step aside and let those in high-risk groups be vaccinated first. Pregnant women and adults under 65 with chronic health conditions have also been identified as being at high risk.

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