Sunday, November 01, 2009

A Clear Lack of Planning

If you've been in Alberta for the past week, you will have no doubt heard about the disastrous fiasco that has been the H1N1 Vaccination Program.

As of this morning, the vaccination program has been suspended.

Let's see - we have a flu virus running around that in its most serious cases kills otherwise healthy people extremely quickly, the government at both the Federal and Provincial levels has been blitzing the media for weeks telling the public to get vaccinated, and the government opens "mass vaccination" clinics in the major centers. They expected what kind of turnout?

Then we get Liepert blaming the general public for turning up for vaccination - amid stories of supply problems and other issues. If this is the kind of wonderful planning we can expect out of our new Health Superboard, it's no wonder that Albertans are skeptical of this government's ability to tie its own shoelaces, much less actually govern.

People are scared - with good reason. When this virus kills suddenly, can anyone blame parents for fearing for their children's health? When the week that vaccinations began, a thirteen year old hockey player in Ontario got sick and succumbed to this flu within 24 hours, one can only imagine that parents got worried - and rightly so.

While I give full marks to the staff working at those clinics for their efforts to keep things calm and orderly, the Alberta Government, and Alberta Health Services in particular, get a big fat goose egg for their planning and execution. Four clinics in the city of Calgary? Please. Winnipeg has 12 clinics for a population half that of Calgary.

Calgarians were standing in lineups for upwards of 5 hours, and then getting turned away. This is a complete fiasco - the governments made it plenty clear that we should get vaccinated, and then they tell us that we shouldn't get vaccinated? No. Wrong.

Liepert screwed this up monumentally - and he gets to wear the fallout. Don Braid explains how badly Liepert and Stelmach have bungled this rollout.

But even if supplies were ample, the public health officials were on the edge of a crisis they created. They simply didn't supply enough access points to meet the huge demand they completely failed to anticipate.

In hindsight, it's almost beyond belief that they only set up 10 clinics for two million people in Calgary and Edmonton.

B.C., by contrast, will have dozens of smaller clinics when H1N1 vaccination starts for the public (high-risk people are already getting shots). So B.C. looks smart by holding back vaccine. I'm not sure it should; people surely have a right to the vaccine as soon as it's available.

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