The H1N1 Flu Virus

H1N1 Flu Virus Vaccine

Q1. How much vaccine is the government ordering?

The government intends to purchase 50.4 million doses of H1N1 vaccine on behalf of the provinces, territories and federal populations. The Government of Canada has a longstanding contract with GlaxoSmithKline to maintain vaccine production capacity in Canada in order to meet Canada’s pandemic vaccine needs promptly and effectively.

Q2. How soon will an H1N1 vaccine be available in Canada?

If all goes well, we hope to have vaccine ready for clinical trials by late September or early October, and to begin immunization in November.

Q3. How will the government pay for the vaccine?

Although the delivery of immunization is a provincial and territorial responsibility, given the exceptional circumstances of a pandemic, the Government of Canada intends to cover 60 per cent of this purchase on a one-time basis.

This investment reflects the seriousness of the situation and our commitment to showing leadership, along with the provinces and territories, on this issue. This investment will be made through a newly allocated federal fund for the H1N1 vaccine purchase.

Q4. How did the government decide on the amount of vaccine to order?

While we would aim to vaccinate 100 per cent of the population, from observing seasonal flu shot campaigns, we know that even in provinces with free universal access vaccination programs, usually less than 50 per cent of the population will choose to be immunized.

Ordering 50.4 million doses of pandemic vaccine amounts to ordering 50 per cent more than we would expect to use for a normal seasonal vaccination campaign.

The Government of Canada is confident that 50.4 million vaccine doses will be sufficient to meet the needs of every Canadian likely to need and want protection

Q5. What if we end up needing more than 50 million doses of vaccine? Will the government be able to buy more and who will pay for it?

Through our contract with GSK we have the opportunity to place further orders at a later date if we feel that there is a requirement for more vaccine to meet the needs of the Canadian people. The cost sharing of additional purchases would be negotiated at the time.

Q6. Will the vaccine be free for all Canadians, even those in provinces and territories that do no provide free seasonal influenza vaccine programs?

Decision on vaccine delivery and the administration of flu clinics is a provincial / territorial responsibility. The Government of Canada intends to pay 60 per cent of the cost of the vaccine purchase. Each province and territory will have to assess their capacity to deliver immunization clinics, and will have to make decisions around cost based on a number of logistical and ethical criteria.

Q7. The WHO recently stated that some countries will begin to receive vaccine in September. Why will Canadians have to wait two months longer?

The Government of Canada is in close communication with GSK and they have assured us that they are on track to deliver a vaccine before the winter flu season. Public safety is paramount: we will strike the right balance between the need to have an H1N1 vaccine available quickly, and the imperative to ensure that vaccine is safe and effective. Some countries may have vaccine developed for testing earlier than Canada, and those early vaccine trials will be useful in informing the global knowledge about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.