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September 28, 2009
For immediate release
Chief Health Office Announces Plans for Seasonal Vaccine and H1N1 Vaccine
“This was a complex decision, and we wanted to ensure that our decision for PEI was informed and evidence based,” said Dr. Heather Morrison, Chief Health Officer for the PEI Department of Health. “This year is a different flu season, but our overall goal is the same; we need to target those most at risk for the flu strains that are in the community this season, to ensure the right people receive the right vaccine at the most appropriate time.”
The decision to change the rollout of the immunization program in provinces across the country was made after a preliminary review of recent Canadian studies that have suggested a potential association between prior seasonal influenza vaccination and the risk of acquiring pandemic H1N1 disease. These studies are being further investigated by the World Health organization and the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Plans for this year’s program includes three phases. The first phase of the program will include providing the regular seasonal influenza vaccination to those 65 years and older and residents in long-term care facilities. This decision is based on the fact that evidence has shown that this group is at a low risk for getting H1N1, but at greatest risk of becoming seriously ill with seasonal influenza.
The second phase will focus on providing the H1N1 influenza vaccination to all Islanders when it becomes available, which is expected to be in mid November.
It is anticipated that the third phase will include continuing the seasonal influenza program, which will then target the remaining high risk groups. “Final decisions will be made as we receive more information over the coming weeks about which strains are largely circulating in the community,” said Dr. Morrison.
“Getting vaccinated remains that best defence against seasonal influenza and H1N1,” said Dr. Morrison. “I strongly encourage all Islanders to get their vaccines, for their own benefit, but also for their families and their community.”