By David Klassen
Due to an increase in emergency room visits, Manitoba Health will open up the H1N1 flu clinics to all Manitobans over six months and under 18 years of age. The province hopes that immunizing school-aged children will reduce the risk that they spread illness on to family members who may be at risk.
This comes just one day before all 12 Winnipeg clinics resume operation Thursday morning at 9:30 a.m.
However, all Manitobans in priority group one are still encouraged to get the H1N1 shot, which includes:
· children aged six months to under five years old;
· anyone of Aboriginal ancestry (First Nations, Métis or Inuit);
· disadvantaged individuals (for example, the homeless);
· people living in remote or isolated areas;
· people under 65 with a chronic medical condition or other risk including severe obesity, substance abuse or alcoholism;
· anyone with a weakened immune system or those who live with or care for them;
· those who live with or care for infants under six months old;
· single parents or anyone solely responsible for a dependent;
· health-care workers and medical first responders; and
· pregnant women.
The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority also announced today that beginning Thursday evening, they will be opening a satellite flu clinic at the Children’s Hospital. This will hopefully reduce the demand on the emergency department, which has seen an increase in children coming in with flu-like symptoms.
The clinic will be staffed by a pediatrician and nursing staff and will be open this Thursday and Friday from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, it will be open from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m.
The WRHA says the department normally would see between 110 and 120 patients per day. Recently, it has been seeing between 160 and 190 children per day. More than half of all patients have been presenting with an influenza-like illness (not just H1N1, but other respiratory illnesses that children contract).