December 9, 2009 / 10:24 PM / in 10 years

Canada looks to share vaccine as flu cases wane

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Canada is considering how much vaccine it will share with other countries, with a third of Canadians now immunized for the H1N1 flu, Canada’s chief public health officer said on Wednesday.

Overall, 30 to 35 percent of Canadians have been vaccinated, Dr. David Butler-Jones said in a news conference in Ottawa.

He said the federal government and World Health Organization are talking about what to do with surplus vaccine doses.

“Canada will be there. There are still discussions as to exactly what and when,” he said in response to a reporter’s question about whether Canada would share extra vaccine. “... The vaccine will not be wasted.”

Poor countries in the southern hemisphere will need help during spring in Canada, he said, when flu season is typically over.

Health officials have said the H1N1 flu may have peaked in Canada and provincial governments have been closing some public vaccination clinics.

The numbers of deaths and hospitalizations related to the flu are dropping, Butler-Jones said, who cautioned that he couldn’t predict that the decline would continue.

By the end of the week, the federal government will have distributed 24 million doses to the provincial governments, which carry out vaccinations. It has ordered 50.4 million doses from GlaxoSmithKline for a population of 33.7 million.

The rate of vaccination varies among Canada’s provinces and territories from 25 to 66 percent, said Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq.

Reporting by Rod Nickel; Editing by Frank McGurty

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