Young children, pregnant women, health-care workers, those in remote communities and adults with chronic conditions should roll up their sleeves and prepare to be among the first to receive a shot in the arm.
The long-awaited H1N1 vaccine priority list was released Wednesday by the Public Health Agency of Canada. But Canada's chief public health officer, David Butler-Jones, stressed that despite the recommendations on who should be first in line, the government has ordered enough H1N1 drug for all Canadians.
"We will have sufficient H1N1 vaccine in Canada for everyone that needs and wants to be immunized. No one will be left out," he told reporters yesterday.
Canada, which has ordered 50 million doses from pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, will start delivering the vaccine in mid-November at the latest. Dr. Butler-Jones said public health officials can speed up delivery to Canadians as early as next month if the swine-flu virus turns more severe in the fall.
The groups identified Wednesday were not listed in priority order.
"Provinces and territories will use the guidance for planning purposes and will interpret it based on local circumstances and realities. Each of these groups is important," Dr. Butler-Jones said.
The groups which would benefit most from the vaccine total roughly seven million Canadians and include:
- people with chronic medical conditions under the age of 65;
- pregnant women;
- children six months to under five years of age;
- people living in remote and isolated settings or communities;
- health-care workers involved in pandemic response or delivering essential health services;
- families and caregivers of individuals who are at high risk, and who cannot be immunized, such as infants under six months of age or people with weakened immune systems;
- populations otherwise identified as high risk.
The agency also noted other groups that would benefit from immunization, including poultry and swine workers and front-line workers, such as police and firefighters.
Canada's priority list is similar to recommendations made by the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.