Call Made To Give H1N1 Vaccine To Natives First

Friday, July 17, 2009 at 14:36



A regional chief with the Assembly of First Nations says people living on reserves need to be given priority when a vaccine is introduced.


Angus Toulouse says H1N1 infection rates are 20 times higher among First Nations in Manitoba than the general population.


Toulouse also says the severity of the cases is higher due to poor living conditions.


He wants Ottawa and the provinces to ensure that First Nations are pushed to the front of the list when it comes to vaccinating Canadians.


An official with Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Health says they will be following whatever guidelines and priority groups are identified by the Public Health Agency of Canada.


National chief public health officer Dr. David Butler-Jones says, in turn, the Public Health Agency will look to the guidelines of the World Health Organization as a starting reference.


However, he does say the situations in isolated communities will be examined thoroughly.


Butler-Jones adds the agency will examine how the virus is affecting different regions of the country in a bid to better understand it.


Meanwhile, a lobby group for Aboriginal nurses in the country says it worries too many of its members are getting burned out.


Audrey Lawrence, the executive director of the Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada, says the H1N1 virus is beginning to take its toll on their workers.


She worries things will get much worse in the fall when the regular flu season hits.


Lawrence says her group has started compiling a list of recently-retired nurses who might be willing to come back to help deal with the crisis.


The association is also joining the AFN’s call for Aboriginal people to be given priority when a vaccine is eventually developed.