Thursday, October 29, 2009

Heckuva job, Harpie

Let's scan some of the H1N1 developments today signifying an absence of leadership at the federal level. There are plenty of good questions to be asked, more on that below.

Family doctors left out:
Doctors were left "scrambling" as H1N1 immunization programs rolled out and should have been much more involved in pandemic planning, says the chief executive of the association representing family physicians.

When public health agencies released their vaccination plans last week, the details took many doctors by surprise, Dr. Calvin Gutkin said Thursday at the annual meeting of the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

"They knew something was going to be announced, but they weren't sure, in many communities, where that was going to be or what their role was going to be," he said.
...
"The family physicians are scrambling like everybody else right now to know where their patients are going to get the immunizations," said Gutkin.
Shouldn't national pandemic planning incorporate the family doctors? Seems like that would have been a very good idea.

Bad news for Manitoba and other parts of the country! "Man. H1N1 vaccine supply in danger." Non-high risk groups are showing up to be immunized, as they are everywhere. Somehow, all these citizens haven't gotten the public health message that the high risk groups are to go first. Signs of people's concerns, yes, but a confident public information campaign could have alleviated this. As previously noted, Britain started a mass information campaign in the spring. We've comparatively been in the dark.

The scene in Toronto today was not good:
Toronto's two H1N1 vaccination clinics are turning away people after being swamped by large numbers of those looking to get vaccinated against swine flu.
They're apparently adjusting now in response to the chaos:
Residents complained of disorganization, shouting slogans such as "this is not a third-world country."
Then we have doctors stating it may even be too late to get the H1N1 vaccine for it to be effective: "Flu vaccine may come too late."
The worst of H1N1 will have passed from some areas of Canada – Southern Ontario and the lower mainland of British Columbia, at least – before healthy people can even roll up their sleeves.
...
If the vaccine becomes available to you before H1N1 hits your part of the country, then it's entirely reasonable to be immunized. It's also reasonable to take a pass. The anticipated benefits from immunization are very small, and the risks are tiny. But if H1N1 has already peaked in your community, these benefits drop off dramatically. It's too late.
More:
"The real tragedy here is that we didn't have this vaccine six weeks ago so we could have protected more people," notes Schabas, now medical officer of health for the Hastings and Prince Edward Counties Health Unit. "For most people, it's coming too late."
...

Why did federal health officials insist that GlaxoSmithKline, Canada's vaccine supplier, manufacture the seasonal flu vaccine first, delaying H1N1 vaccine production despite predictions that the only flu we'd likely see this winter was of the swine variety?
That latter question, a looming one at the moment. What say you, Mr. Harper?

There are many legitimate questions to be asked here about the federal government's oversight of the vaccine production and the federal communication strategy, manifesting itself in public confusion across the country. The federal rhetoric is not matching what we're seeing on the ground.

Asking questions in the face of all of this is clearly justified and should not be marginalized as fear mongering, the way the Conservative pack presently is. John Baird today:
The charges over the H1N1 vaccine also led to some pointed heckling with Transport Minister John Baird shouting, “Where is Carolyn Bennett today? Is she out scaring someone?”
Heckuva job, you Conservatives....