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New coupon system in Quebec to cut wait for H1N1 vaccine

Posted Nov 04 2009 10:07pm
Montreal officials speed up vaccination schedule

Quebec Health Minister Yves Bolduc says a new coupon system will be put in place to help prevent lineups at H1N1 vaccination clinics in some regions.

The province has faced criticism for its vaccination plan as thousands of people, including those at high risk of contracting swine flu, have been forced to wait hours in cold temperatures.

Bolduc said the coupons will provide patients with an appointment for their vaccination and would be available in the Montérégie region and Quebec City, starting Wednesday.

The coupons will be available in Montreal starting Thursday, Bolduc said.

The system has been in place in the Gatineau region since Friday and has been successful in eliminating lineups, Bolduc said.

Asked whether he was concerned the coupons could spark a black market for vaccination appointments, the minister said officials were doing the best they could.

"We have to do something for the lineup," Bolduc said. "We think this is the best system, even if it is not the perfect system."

The province’s director of public health, Dr. Alain Poirier, dismissed accusations the system has been disorganized. He said the distribution of vaccines has been going smoothly in some regions, while in others the demand has been higher than expected.

There were also some logistical delays that prevented some regions from starting their vaccination campaigns on time, Poirier said. Everyone who wants the vaccine should be able to get it before Christmas, Poirier said.

The number of cases of the H1N1 virus in Quebec is on the rise but the flu has not become more virulent, said Poirier. In the previous 24 hours, he said, there were six cases of the illness that had required hospital treatement.

Montreal to accelerate vaccination
In Montreal, officials at the regional health agency said they would hold a news conference Thursday to announce changes to the vaccination schedule in the region.

In response to concerns about the delay in the vaccination of at-risk people in Montreal, Bolduc said he has asked regional health officials to speed up the process.

"If some people are more anxious to get the vaccine, I think our job is to relieve this anxiety and get the vaccine to these people as soon as possible," Bolduc said

While some regions have already begun vaccinating parents with children younger than six months old, people with suppressed immune systems and families with members who have suppressed immune systems but cannot get the vaccine, Montreal is still focused on vaccinating health-care workers and patients in hospitals.

Officials in the region do not expect to start vaccinating other at-risk people until Friday.

The lineup started before dawn on Tuesday at a Longueuil arena on Montreal's South Shore, where dozens of Quebecers camped out — some with children in tow — to get the swine flu vaccine.

It was the second day a predawn queue formed at the makeshift clinic, where the wait on Monday was as long as eight hours, despite health professionals administering vaccines non-stop.

In an interview with CBC Radio's Daybreak on Tuesday morning Bolduc, who got his shot last week, said his wife and teenage son have yet to be vaccinated, so he understands parents' concerns about their children.

Bolduc's office confirmed that Quebec still hasn't administered all the doses it has received since the launch of the federal inoculation campaign.                                         

Health Minister Yves Bolduc says he has asked officialsin
 Montrealto accelerate their vaccination plan. (CBC)

'If some people are more anxious to get the vaccine, I think our job is to relieve this anxiety and get the vaccine to these people as soon as possible.'

—Quebec Health Minister Yves Bolduc

Source: CBC News

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