August 17, 2009

Canada not ready for mass H1N1 vaccination

Canada and many Western countries lack experience in mass immunization campaigns necessary to fight H1N1 influenza, experts say.

Dr. Paul Hebert, editor in chief of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, wrote in an editorial that Canada has been below vaccination target levels in such outbreaks as the resurgence of mumps in young adults in Canada last year.

In countries such as Canada that have shared responsibilities between many levels of government, collaboration and clear communication are essential as a first line of defense, Hebert and the CMAJ editorial writing team said in a statement.

To see that this happens, governments need to have or enact laws to provide the necessary power to ensure rapid action on complex issues.

National leaders should immediately convene a summit to link public health officials, the critical care community, first responders and other healthcare providers, decision-makers, community planners and the public, to communicate next steps and to ensure that actions taken by leaders will work at the ground level, the editorial said.