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article imageH1N1: Vaccinations taking money from other health programs

By Lynne Melcombe     Dec 5, 2009 in Health
A U of T infectious-disease expert says that now that the second wave of H1N1 has peaked and is dwindling, there's no reason to continue the largest vaccination campaign in Canada's history, which is diverting funds from other public health programs.
Dr. David Fisman, a University of Toronto expert in the dynamics of infectious diseases, told Canwest News that the virus is dying out because enough people now have immunity to ensure that the outbreak has nowhere to go but out.
For a disease to become pandemic, there must be potential for each person infected to pass it on to more than one other person. But once vaccinations had reached 30 percent of the Canadian population, it became impossible for the H1N1 pandemic to continue growing. According to Dr. Richard Schabas, former chief medical officer for Ontario, when interviewed by Digital Journal on November 27, "between immunizations and exposure, more than 50% of the [Canadian] population is immune."
Fisman told Canwest that, although vaccinations have undoubtedly saved some lives, contagion was already declining when it became available. At this point, when the H1N1 has passed, it is likely the final mortality numbers will be lower than for seasonal flu. Typically, 750 to 2500 Canadians die each year of seasonal flu. On December 3, Digital Journal reported that the death toll in Canada had risen to 357 people.
As time goes on, says Fisman, continuing vaccinations will be increasingly less beneficial in preventing new infections, and will also go on diverting funds from other important public health initiatives, such as breastfeeding support programs and sexually transmitted disease clinics.
More about H1n1, Flu, Pandemic, Vaccination, Public health
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