Vaccine shortage delays kids' immunization : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Apr. 7, 01:49 EDT Vaccine shortage delays kids' immunization

LONDON, Ont. (CP) - A vaccine shortage is one of the reasons why most young children in this southern Ontario city can't get immunized against meningitis, health officials said yesterday.

''We certainly had to factor the (shortage) into our equation,'' said Dr. Graham Pollett, medical officer of health for the Middlesex-London Health Unit.

Pollett announced a free immunization campaign Thursday for people aged 15 to 24. The vaccinations - given only to those living or going to school north of the city's Thames River - will cost about $1.6 million, with the Ontario government picking up most of the tab.

The vaccine shortage pushed health officials to exclude from the immunization campaign children less than 15 years old and those who live and go to school south of the Thames River, Pollett said.

The fact that all four London cases of meningitis this year occurred in the city's north end and that the 15 to 24 age group is the highest at risk was also considered by health officials making the exclusion.

It was also believed that those excluded could buy the vaccine through their own doctors, but that doesn't appear to be the case.

''We don't have a single dose and it would be virtually impossible to get it,'' said local pharmacist Jeff Robb of Turner Drug Store Ltd.

Since Feb. 1, the drug's supplier has restricted distribution to public officials to combat outbreaks, Robb said. Anyone with a doctor's prescription will be turned away.

More vaccine will be available if there is need to expand the immunization campaign, but not until April 23, Pollett said.

Angry parents said such details should have been disclosed by health officials when the vaccination announcement was made.

''Why hide it? They should be chastised for not being more up-front,'' said Marlene Patten, who believes the decision to restrict the campaign seems arbitrary.

Patten has two sons, aged 15 and 16. One attends high school in the north, the other in the south of the city.

''So one gets the immunization and the other doesn't. That's ridiculous,'' said Patten, a former trustee with the public school board.

Robb agreed and expects his customers to be angry. ''They'll have to be on the right side of the river . . . it's an arbitrary boundary,'' he said.

Pollett acknowledged the second-highest risk group is children less than 15 years old.

Symptoms of meningitis include vomiting, severe headache, high temperature and a stiff neck. Most people are immune, but those who aren't can suffer blood poisoning or swelling of the lining of the brain and spinal column.

-- Martin Thompson (, April 07, 2001


I checked my sources and no one is aware of any shortage in the U.S., nor is this mentioned on the U.S. FDA website. It may be that it's something limited to Canada--perhaps something to do with a distributor there rather than the manufacturer, but I do not know for sure.

-- Andre Weltman (, April 09, 2001.

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