The H1N1 Flu Virus

Q8. Who will get the vaccine first?

In Canada we are fortunate that the issue is not whether we will have enough vaccines for everyone: it is how quickly everyone will get vaccinated. Those who need it most will get it first. Decisions around priority groups for the vaccine will be made closer to the time when the vaccine is available based on what we know about H1N1.

Q9. How are decisions on priority groups for vaccine being made?

Federal/provincial/territorial public health officials and experts on the Public Health Network Council Vaccine Supply Task Group, the Canadian Immunization Committee and the Public Health Agency of Canada are working together to develop a framework to provide guidance on vaccine program implementation. Guidelines are expected in the coming weeks.

Q10. What factors are being considered in terms of vaccine priority groups?

Decisions about program implementation for the pandemic vaccine will be based on a number of factors, including scientific evidence, ethical, legal and logistical considerations.

A vaccine prioritization framework is currently being developed. Several factors must be weighed in developing priority groups, such as the characteristics of the illness and the vaccine, its spread and severity among different populations and the logistics of administering the vaccine.

Government of Canada Actions

Q1. What is the Government of Canada doing to protect Canadians from the virus here in Canada?

Our primary goal is to protect the health of Canadians and their families. At this time, the most effective way to do this is to slow the spread of the disease.

A number of steps are involved in doing this:

Heightened Surveillance will continue and frontline health care workers are actively looking for and reporting positive cases.

Health care workers have been provided with detailed advice on how to manage suspect and/or confirmed cases.

Provincial and territorial laboratories are working cooperatively with Canada’s National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg

If needed, antiviral medications from Canada’s stockpile would be used to treat active severe illness.

Communications to Canadians will continue through the Citizen Readiness Campaign to ensure they are well-informed as to how best protect themselves and their families. Additional outreach will take place if needed. Q2. What actions is Canada taking to address pandemic alert level to Phase 6?

Canada is a global leader in pandemic planning and we continue to implement our overall pandemic plan for the health sector (Canadian Pandemic Influenza Plan).

Our advanced level of readiness is also due to close cooperation with provinces and territories and health professionals across the country.

With the escalation to Pandemic Phase 6, federal actions will be actively continued under the Canadian Pandemic Influenza Plan for the Health Sector, including:

Ensuring that the National Antiviral Stockpile can be mobilized quickly so Canadians can receive the treatment they need;

Reviewing the science and working with the vaccine manufacturer, GlaxoSmith Kline, to begin the process of developing and testing a pandemic vaccine in accordance our standing contract; and ongoing involvement in vaccine development, testing and production;

Managing the National Emergency Stockpile System (NESS) which contains hospital supplies, equipment and other pharmaceuticals (including a stockpile of antiviral medication);