Technology & Science

H1N1 vaccine supply, need misaligned: report

Ontario responded well to the H1N1 pandemic but the province had little warning from the federal government about the vaccine supply, an interim report says.

Ontario responded well to the pressures of the H1N1 pandemic but the province had little warning from the federal government about the vaccine supply, an interim report says.

Dr. Arlene King, Ontario's chief officer of health, speaks to the media after releasing a report on H1N1 immunization in Toronto on Wednesday. ((Nathan Denette/Canadian Press))

The province's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Arlene King, released the report on how Ontario handled H1N1.

"If you ask people what they think went wrong during H1N1, they will point to the lineups for H1N1 vaccine, and so will I," King told a news conference in Toronto on Wednesday.

"To be blunt, from Oct. 26, the date of the launch of our H1N1 immunization program, there was never an alignment between H1N1 vaccine supply, demand and our capacity to deliver it."

Ontario had little warning from the federal government about how much vaccine the province would receive and when, and long lineups at the beginning of the vaccine rollout initially overwhelmed the ability to deliver it, the report said.

Better co-ordination between the provincial and national response is needed, according to the report.

The logistics of rolling out a mass immunization campaign in a short time frame was harder than anticipated, King noted, but eventually, everyone who wanted the vaccine received it.

King recommended:

  • An electronic system to track vaccine distribution and delivery.
  • Greater power for the province's chief medical officer to standardize and co-ordinate local response to a public health emergency with the aim of delivering equal care.

All indications point to the worst of the pandemic passing, and that rates of death and hospitalization in the province were low compared with overall Canadian rates, the report said.

The overall estimated rate of H1N1 immunization in the province was about 38 per cent, ranging from a low of 35 per cent in Toronto to about 55 per cent in Ottawa.

Since April 2009, 128 deaths have been reported among lab-confirmed cases of H1N1 in Ontario.

now