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Flu strategy failed from the start, Liberals say

Liberal health critic Andrew Parsons says Newfoundland and Labrador was caught short for this year's flu season, and didn't do enough to educate the public about flu risks.

Province is trying to acquire another 100K of flu shots

Liberal health critic Andrew Parsons says Newfoundland and Labrador ought to have been better prepared for this year's flu season. (CBC)

Liberal health critic Andrew Parsons says Newfoundland and Labrador was caught short for this year's flu season, and didn't do enough to educate the public about flu risks.

"They should have known this. We're not prepared," said Parsons, reacting to how the province exhausted its supply of about 130,000 flu shots.

A patient receives a flu shot at a clinic in St. John's. (CBC)
The government is now working to secure another 100,000 shots to meet a growing demand from the public.

So far, one person has died of flu this seasons, specifically the H1N1 strain. Officials are not commenting on the age or the gender of that individual.

Health Minister Susan Sullivan said at this point last year, nine people had died of influenza.

Parsons said, that while the death rate is lower, the government could have done much more in the last few weeks to prevent the spread of the disease, especially in light of an outbreak in Alberta.

"In fact, I called the Department of Health on Jan. 2 after watching the news throughout Christmas and [having heard] about a massive outbreak in Alberta and mass immunization clinics, and I put these issues to government then and I was reassured, 'Don't worry, this is not going to be a problem,'" Parsons told reporters.

"Here we are now, a quarter of our population is able to be immunized, and hopefully 45 per cent [will be], if everything goes well."

The government hopes to obtain the additional flu shots within the next few weeks.

Parsons also thinks the government should have done more as part of an education campaign to explain the risks of flu, particularly the H1N1 strain. This year's shot protects against several strains, including H1N1.

"Every one of our hospitalizations has been H1N1. The person that passed away was H1N1," Parsons said.

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