Peel flu shot clinic overwhelmed with crowds
The Peel Region's first swine flu shot clinic is so overwhelmed with patients looking to get a dose of the vaccine against H1N1, they've had to call in extra nurses.
The line-ups at the clinic at the International Centre on Airport Rd. started more than an hour before the clinic even opened its doors. Long lineups are also being seen at flu vaccine clinics across the GTA. Clinics in Whitby, North York and Pickering have seen huge crowds, with wait times of about three hours.
The clinics are meant for "priority groups" only -- pregnant women, young children, those with asthma and others -- but no one is being turned away.
Telehealth Ontario, the provincial hotline staffed by registered nurses, also claims a surge in calls. They are telling callers there is a nine to 10-hour wait for a nurse or doctor to call them back. They would not confirm if H1N1 concerns were behind the surge in calls.
One man at the International Centre flu shot clinic told CTV Toronto he was getting the shot not to protect himself, but his family.
"I have a family member who has a low immune system and we were told by our doctor yesterday to get the flu shot to protect here, because if I get it [the flu I could infect her," he said.
Another woman whose husband and son have asthma decided to line up when she noticed a line was forming outside the centre at 7 a.m.
Thirteen-year-old Darnelle Marks says what made him brave the wait was the case of 13-year-old Evan Frustaglio who died this week from swine flu.
"I was nervous about H1N1 originally and then when I heard about what happened to that boy yesterday, it sort of made me want to get it even more. And when I got it today, it made my worries sort of go away," he said.
Peel Health officials say they won't turn anyone away, but this early clinic is really for those most at risk.
"We're looking at those with chronic medical conditions who are under 65 years of age, we're looking at health care workers, at young kids. And of course, we're looking at people who provide care to some of these individuals," Dr. Eileen de Villa explained.
The clinic is due to close at 3:30 p.m. but officials say that all those who have been waiting will get their shots. In fact, they say they have just brought in eight more nurses to add to the 11 already working to get the vaccine into people's arms.
The clinic opens again Thursday at 9:30 a.m.
Swine flu vaccine clinics for the general public in Peel Region open next Monday and run until Dec. 11. For more information on Peel Region clinic times and locations, visit www.peelregion.ca or call 905-799-7700.