Saturday, October 31, 2009

This H1N1 Crisis Could Have Been Handled Better. It's That Simple

I really like Leona Aglukkaq, our Health Minister. I think she is decent and hard working, but believe she may be over her head. And I say that in a nice way.

This past summer when the government should have been running extensive PR over H1N1, they were instead concerned with partisan pork-barreling, and the potential pandemic was put on the back burner. Now when there is a rising panic over getting vaccinated, social unrest is growing.

Mass confusion and uncertainly prevails, and I think it's up to this entire government to come out of their offices and start reassuring Canadians. We're constantly hearing of shortages, and that's creating a great deal of panic.

The adorable little kids in the video are exactly what we need. Ms Aglukkaq can't do this alone. She's new and she's been thrown into a ministry that has found itself involved in two distinct crises. The Isotope shortage and now H1N1.

Last week when Liberal Carol Bennett asked the health minister a question, the frat boys led by John Baird, started squealing like hyenas, treating the entire thing like a joke. To her credit Ms Aglukkaq answered the question clearly and seemed rather embarrassed by the conduct of some in her caucus.

We need PR that is reassuring. This government may have left it too late to order the vaccine, and now are having trouble getting enough; but simple little ads with sound advice would be far more helpful. When we hear MPs heckling and laughing over a matter this serious it does not give us much confidence that they have the ability to handle the crisis.

Temperatures rise as 'flu rage' explodes across Canada
By Misty Harris,
Canwest News Service
October 30, 2009

As much as flu fears have people pulling away, H1N1 is also uniting Canadians through emotion — specifically, a deeply entrenched sense of frustration that, for many, has mutated into bitterness, anger and even hostility.

Call it flu rage. Across the country, otherwise mild-mannered Canadians are finding themselves admonishing strangers for open sneezing, losing their cool with queue-jumpers at vaccination clinics, writing angry letters to government and media, and lashing out at friends whose H1N1 opinions differ from their own.

"Anger can cause us to be proactive . . . but it can also become destructive, which is what we see with flu rage," says psychologist Gordon Asmundson, a professor whose research at the University of Regina includes health anxiety.

"It's about a sense of uncertainty combined with the feeling of having no control over a situation. We tend to catastrophize when we're anxious." Tami Xanthakis, a proofreader from Montreal, can't remember the last time she was this worked up about something as "elementary" as a flu shot.

"What's fuelled my anger is feeling like I'm between a rock a hard place, not knowing what to do," says Xanthakis. "I feel like the government is pushing us to do this — like, 'Just be quiet and take it.' But I don't know enough to feel secure with the vaccine."

For others, such as Barbara Carlson of Dawson's Creek, B.C., it's media "hysteria" and Internet half-truths that make her bristle.

"This is the year 2009, and yet, people still believe in superstition and misinformation," says Carlson, a retiree. "Do you know how many e-mails I've gotten that told me I could prevent H1N1 by cutting up raw onions and putting them in water around my house? I finally replied,

'Hanging a dead rat around your neck will do just as much good.' The (sender) was quite miffed."

Dan Hoch, principal of an elementary school just outside Calgary, says emotions are running high among parents and teachers alike, primarily because of what he calls the "mind-boggling" deficit in vaccination sites.

"This is a life-and-death scenario . . . People are asking, 'How did the province not get it right?'" says Hoch. "What would it have taken to ask each school to give up their gymnasium for a day and vaccinate all the kids there — literally run them through the same way we do on picture day? It could easily have been done."

Resentment also looms large among Canadians that find themselves constantly worrying about infection, whether from open-sneezers at the gym or those who blithely bypass the sinks in public washrooms.

"I think about it all the time — more than ever before," admits J'Lyn Nye, a radio host from Edmonton who says she doesn't want to be "sheeple" by herding in for a vaccine she knows little about.

"I come in first thing every morning and wipe down all the studio equipment with Lysol. I love the guys I work with, but you never know where their hands have been."

Lindsay Harris, a Toronto-based mother of two, was so angry at the system Thursday that she posted a public rant titled "H1N1 stands for, 'I'm in hell'" on her blog,

"Who was the brilliant thinker behind only having 10 flu clinics for a population of 2 million?" asks Harris, whose husband was turned away from the vaccine line just 90 minutes after the clinic doors opened, because of short supplies.

"I even called around to see if anyone had heard of a black-market vaccination clinic. Now there's a thought."

Black markets will not be a good idea because you don't know if it's the vaccine you're even getting. The government should have handled this better, but it's not too late.


  1. I'm glad. But my grandson came in close contact with a woman who died from it and I now know what fear looks like.

    I mentioned in another post that our health minister handled herself well under the circumstances, but as the auditor general confirmed, this government is ill prepared to handle an emergency.

    We were one of the last countries to get the vaccine and the public information campaign was shoddy at best.

    It created a lot of unnecessary panic. All the best in the New Year. We live to fight another day. LOL.