Dear Colleagues,

We're awash in information about H1N1 so I thought I'd give you a summary of how we're doing at UHN and what we're planning for in the coming weeks. I'll send out these summaries as often as I need to and I'll apologize in advance for the length of this one.

Staff vaccination: Our campaign began on October 23 when we received our first supply of vaccine. As of Friday morning, 4,635 staff had received the vaccine and the carts will continue to roll until every staff member who wants the vaccine has received it. You'll recall that health care workers - that's all of us - are on the priority list established by the government. Why? Because it is important that we are healthy and here to care for patients - flu patients, cancer patients, transplant patients, neuro patients - well you get the idea. Flu will add to the number of patients we see but the other illnesses and conditions aren't going to take a rest because the flu is here. We need to be healthy so that we can continue to care for all of our patients.

And, a couple of other notes about vaccination:

  • The small green stickers do say H1N1 - Dose 1 on them because they were ordered in advance when we thought that there would be two H1N1 doses. Because Canada ordered vaccine with an adjuvant, there will be no need for a second dose. The adjuvant in the vaccine boosts the immune response in your body so the second dose is not necessary. So, pre-planning and ordering meant our stickers are out of date. We'll solve that by running a black line through 'Dose 1' from now on! 
  • To date, the vaccine is being very well tolerated. People are reporting sore arms for a couple of days which is normal and you should not call to report the normal side effects from taking the vaccine. One person reported running a fever after taking the vaccine and a couple of people reporting a numbness of the skin, which would be the kind of side effect you should report to Occupational Health & Safety. It is important that we capture all information about any side effects that people feel they have after taking the shot so please call Occupational Health & Safety to report any side effect which you believe is related to the vaccine. 
  • Now that we've started to vaccinate, we will probably not be using our supply of Tamiflu which was always intended as an insurance measure to keep you healthy until a vaccine became available. I am recommending that you all get vaccinated if you are worried about contracting H1N1. It is your best protection against this flu and having everyone vaccinated will make this a safer place for our patients and staff. 
  • Some staff have been vaccinated at Mount Sinai Hospital which is terrific. If that is the case, Occupational Health & Safety would like to know about it so that we can maintain a complete record of staff vaccination. The carts are rolling on all three sites but, during regular hours, staff can go to the 'stationary locations' if the cart hasn't arrived in your area. At TGH, the stationary cart is in the De Gasperis Atrium. At PMH it is in the 5th Floor Staff Lounge and at TWH it is located in the Atrium. You will need your badge to obtain your shot. 
  • If you are pregnant, and wish to be vaccinated, we would like you to go to Occupational Health and Safety to receive the shot. This way we can be sure that there is time for you to ask all the questions you need to prior to vaccination which might be hard when there's a line at the flu cart. 
  • Our vaccine supply is for staff only. If we complete our campaign for staff and have a supply of vaccine remaining, I will let you know which priority groups will then receive the vaccine.
  • Flu Information for Staff
  • Starting Monday, Occupational Health & Safety will have a flu hotline where you can report on flu, ask questions about H1N1 or ask about the vaccine. The Hot Line number is 416-340-3587 or 416-340-FLUS if that is easier to remember. We are asking that all staff use this hot line to report on the flu.
  • Click here to view the H1N1 Employee Handbook (on the corporate intranet). Almost everything you'll need to know is there and I'd encourage you to read it.​


Patients and H1N1

Across UHN we are very busy and have some hospitalized H1N1 patients. Our Emergency Departments are always busy and continue in that mode. Almost all people coming to the Emergency Departments with flu symptoms are seen and sent home to rest in bed which is what anyone should do with normal symptoms of the flu. We have some hospitalized flu patients and, with both Emergency and inpatients, we expect our numbers to rise in the next couple of weeks. We are tracking our numbers and have plans in place if we need to response to a sharp surge in any of these areas.

Many of you have been asked whether we are vaccinating patients and or are planning to vaccinate patients. Here are our plans:

  • We are working with our physicians to identify groups of patients whom the physicians want vaccinated by the hospital. Charlie Chan is heading this process and will be rolling up the numbers so that we have a sense of how much vaccine we need to order for priority patient groups.
  • Once we know how much vaccine we need, we will order the vaccine and ensure that we have a plan for rolling the vaccine out to the patients we have identified in our priority groups. 
  • Our website has a section of information for patients which includes links to Toronto Public Health which is the body charged with the immunization program for the public. News reports indicate that TPH will open more clinics next week.

I'll end by stating the obvious. This is a flu that we're dealing with and we see flu each and every year. We know how to treat it, we know what we can do to protect ourselves, we know where to get the most current information, and we're well on our way to ensuring that most of us will have been vaccinated against this particular strain. The people of UHN are responding as they always do with professionalism and a calm air of competence that makes me feel grateful to be able to lead such a group. I'd like to thank all of you but cannot close without singling out the staff and leadership of Occupational Health & Safety and Infection Prevention & Control. I thank those two groups on behalf of the whole of UHN.


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