The Alberta government may have dropped ball when it came to preparing to deal with the measles outbreak in the province, according to a pharmaceutical professor at the University of Alberta.
After declaring the outbreak in Edmonton, Calgary and central Alberta Tuesday, Alberta Health Services recommended immunization for children as young as six months old. Infants are usually immunized at one year.
Some Edmonton parents say they’re having trouble booking vaccine appointments for their young children – despite Health Link adding extra staff and extending weekend hours.
Health officials should have anticipated a surge in people looking for the vaccine after the the outbreak was declared, says Ubaka Ogbogu, a professor with the university’s pharmacy faculty.
“This came up very quickly, caught everyone by surprise, but they ought to have anticipated that they would get an upsurge once they announced an outbreak,” said Ogbogu.
“I don't want to see parents lose interest in getting their children vaccinated because the province has failed to put an effective system in place to deal with the upswing in requests for immunization,” he said.
“So I do think the province needs to do more – what they've done so far is, I believe, not enough if parents are complaining.”
Ogbogu says if this outbreak worsens the province should revisit the idea of mandatory vaccinations, as is the case in other provinces.
- Measles outbreak declared in Calgary, Edmonton and central Alberta
Alberta NDP David Eggen agrees.
“We would have had the capacity to immunize, to mobilize,” he said Thursday.
“When you have something like a measles epidemic taking place, this broken promise of promising so many family care clinics and then not delivering on them … has a direct effect on our lack of capacity to deal with medical problems like the measles outbreak. We can do a lot better.”
But Alberta’s Minister of Health is downplaying the criticism, saying the vaccination process is going “remarkably well” and Fred Horne is thanking parents for their speedy support of early vaccination.
“It’s difficult to anticipate the demand for this. Obviously, declaring an outbreak has caught people's attention, which is a good thing.”
There have been 22 confirmed cases so far in the province – six cases in Edmonton, nine in Calgary and seven in central Alberta.