Health officials turned away dozens of people at an H1N1 flu clinic in Leamington, Ont., in keeping with a stricter new policy on who can receive the swine flu vaccine.


Helen Mabbett was turned away by organizers of an H1N1 clinic in Leamington, Ont. because senior citizens are not considered a priority group for getting the vaccine. ((Kim Kristy/CBC))

Many of those turned away from the clinic, held at the Half Century Club, were senior citizens.

And many of those seniors were furious at having lined up in the cold for hours, ultimately for nothing.

"I can't have it because I'm over 65," Helen Mabbett told CBC News, huddled in a grey hooded sweatshirt and yellow rain jacket. "What do you think of that? I think they should go jump in the lake."

"If I end up with this disease after my surgery while I'm in the hospital for six or eight days, there will be a lawsuit," Mabbett vowed.

Officials with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit announced Saturday they would be limiting the vaccine to the following groups:

  • Pregnant women.
  • People under the age of 65 with chronic medical conditions.
  • Healthy children aged six months to five years.
  • Household contacts and care providers of persons at high risk who cannot be immunized or may not respond to vaccines.

The restrictions are needed to make up for what Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews called "significantly lower" supplies of the vaccine than anticipated.

But the minister's message, and that of the WECHU officials, prompted complaints in Leamington on Monday.

"I believe all the kids should be getting the shot," said Billie Jo Church. "I would step out of line for another child to get it ahead of me."

"I guess the government is doing its job, but they could probably be doing more," said Issa Aljanabi, who arrived at the clinic with his young daughter.

Clinic workers were not permitted to give interviews.

Leamington's clinic was the fourth of 20 H1N1 clinics scheduled in Essex County.

The next is scheduled for Tuesday, from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., at Place Concorde in Windsor.