October 19, 2009 / 3:51 PM / 8 years ago

Canadian provinces get 2 million H1N1 vaccines

OTTAWA (Reuters) - GlaxoSmithKline Plc has shipped two million doses of H1N1 vaccines to Canada’s provinces and more will be sent this week, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said on Monday.

<p>Canadian Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq (L) visits a lab that tests for the H1N1 flu virus at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control in Vancouver, British Columbia October 16, 2009. REUTERS/Andy Clark</p>

She said the vaccines would be offered to the public once clinical trials have been concluded and the federal regulator gives its approval.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. David Butler-Jones said he expected the public roll out to begin as expected in the first week of November.

“A handful of countries may have access to some vaccine for some of their citizens before we do. However, we will have vaccines available for every Canadian who needs and wants it,” he told a news conference with Aglukkaq.

Butler-Jones said 3 million doses or more would be sent out every week. Canada has a population of 33.7 million and has ordered 50.4 million doses from GlaxoSmithKline.

Opposition politicians have criticized the government for not starting vaccinations earlier, but Butler-Jones said Canada followed World Health Organization recommendations in beginning H1N1 vaccine production immediately after seasonal flu vaccine production was complete.

Reporting by Randall Palmer; editing by Rob Wilson

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