How to make flu vaccinations difficult

Posted 11.10.11

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | What would you think if your regional health board launched a big campaign for vaccinations against the winter flu, targeting the most fragile members of our community -- seniors and small children, those in delicate health, pregnant women, and health care workers themselves, etc.? Sounds wonderful, doesn't it? What if this program included the convenience of picking up vaccination-appointment coupons right here in Aylmer?

And what, finally, if the program requires that these fragile groups travel miles (or kilometres) to the other side of the city for the actual shots?

The elderly and the ill are supposed to arrange their own rides, to and from, and also to wait during the line up and then rest in observation after the shot? The elderly and infirm likely don't or can't drive; can they find a family member to spend the afternoon, or can they figure out the bus routes and transfers to take a city bus, or can they pay for a cab across the city?

Wait a minute, what kind of a plan is this?

It's tough to figure out how bureaucratic minds work, at least for those of us trying to access services. What the functionaries say, and what they do are very different. They know exactly what should be said -- everything they do is "to increase ease and convenience" -- and "safety." So every announcement by the bureaucracy comes well-explained, with the noblest of intentions, with tremendous budgets dedicated to serving the public, with plans and projections which are sure to put the Life of Reilly just around the corner for us all.

When it comes to their real actions, however, all this goes out the window. It's too inconvenient serving the public! Apparently this is what happened with this year's flu vaccination planning.

Besides questioning the wisdom of having the elderly and infirm arrange their own transportation to a site many miles away, shouldn't we wonder which well-paid official figured it is better to have hundreds of citizens transport themselves rather than to have a few medical technicians do the traveling? Which option generates the least greenhouse gas emissions?

No doubt the transit authority wants city buses fuller, but who would ask the weakest members of society to solve this problem for the STO? If they want full buses, give bus passes to students. Make going to school, Cegep, and university less expensive -- isn't that a plan, even if it isn't part of the STO or health board's mandate?

No, if seniors, pregnant women, mothers of infants and small children, the chronically ill, and such, can pick up appointment slips at the Aylmer CLSC, why can't they get their vaccinations here, too?

Vaccinations are not high science or risky medicine. They are done in pharmacies a block away. Surely the CLSCs in each sector are large and hygienic enough to provide this service. The present plan is absurd. Isn't there a bureaucrat -- or political leader -- awake enough to see this?

Copyright © 2011 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/11.11