Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Failed H1N1 flu strategy is killing children

By Ian Connerty, guest columnist

Worldwide scientific studies show that the average age of patients admitted to hospital because of H1N1, the so-called swine flu, is 18 and the largest number of deaths is among teenagers and young adults.

But the Canadian and Ontario governments have decided, in spite of the mounting evidence that they are not at high risk of getting this flu, so they can’t even get vaccines yet.

Instead, a policy directive posted on the Ontario government website on September 24, 2009 says the following are on priority lists to get the scarce shots of the H1N1 flu vaccine:

  • people with chronic medical conditions, under age 65,
  • pregnant women,
  • healthy children from six months to five years old,
  • persons residing in remote and isolated settings or communities,
  • health care workers involved in pandemic response or the delivery of essential health care services, and
  • household contacts and care providers of persons at high risk who cannot be immunized or may not respond to vaccines.

Meanwhile, an 11 year old girl from Cornwall died two days ago in an Ottawa hospital and a 13 boy from Vaughan, a suburb north of Toronto, died yesterday at home in his father’s arms. Both died from H1N1.

They were not on the government’s priority list and therefore couldn’t even get the H1N1 vaccine.

And no one on the government’s priority list has died. What is going on here?

If children are dying, and no one in the priority groups is dying of H1N1, how can government officials stand by their decision to withhold a life-saving vaccine from Canadian children?

If parents did this, they would be arrested for child abuse and if the child dies, they might be charged with homicide.

How can health officials sleep at night knowing that their ill-conceived policies are targeting the wrong groups to get the vaccine and that their tardiness in delivering the H1N1 vaccine is resulting in dead children?

Wake up government.

Change your policies NOW in the face of the stark and uncomfortable facts. You were wrong. This disease is killing children, not seniors and care workers.

Another scientific study released just yesterday shows that older people have more immunity to this disease than young people. Back in September the Ontario government knew this saying: “data shows that infection from the pandemic H1N1 virus does not typically occur in persons over age 60, probably as a result of residual immunity from exposure to H1N1 prior to 1957.”

Most times governments are just wrong-headed and dumb. This time they are endangering your children’s health.