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School-Age Kids To Be Added To H1N1 Priority List, Assessment Centre Opens

After a very bumpy first few weeks of the H1N1 vaccination rollout some major kinks in the system have been worked out with school-age kids expected to be added to the high-priority list, increased clinic hours and new flu assessment centres in Toronto.

Health officials also announced healthy children between the ages of three to nine years only need one shot of the vaccine to be protected. Original recommendations stated kids in that age range receive two half-doses.

The province will reportedly announce Friday that school-age children will be eligible to get the shot. Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. David McKeown said schools won’t offer it, but parents will be advised to take kids to their doctor or a public clinic for the vaccine.

And lines at clinics likely won’t be as long as they were in the first few weeks of the vaccine rollout. All public immunization centres in Toronto will close Sunday, but starting Monday, all 10 locations will be open seven days a week.

Click here for updated clinic dates, times and locations.

Four new flu assessment centres are slated to open across Toronto next week. One at the Scarborough Hospital opened Thursday.

For flu assessment centre locations and operating hours, click here.

Health officials say these new centres should ease the burden on crowded emergency rooms. Most people who get the flu recover without medical treatment, but if you think you need a professional’s advice and you can’t get to your doctor or a walk-in clinic you should go to a flu assessment centre.

And some parents will no longer have to make two trips to the doctor or vaccine clinic for their kids’ shots.

While new recommendations state healthy kids aged three to nine years only need one shot, children of the same age with chronic disease may need a second dose.

Tots aged six to 35 months should still receive two shots.

“There’s not enough information now to make a blanket recommendation for all groups,” the head of Canada’s Public Health Agency Dr. David Butler-Jones said.

“But in consultation with the pediatricians and the vaccine task group … and public health officials across the country, this seems very prudent and reasonable advice because parents are going to be starting to make this decision next week. So we want to get ahead of that.”