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November 27, 2003
Toronto EMS paramedics help the homeless "Beat the Flu"
Paramedics from the Toronto EMS Community Medicine Program, in partnership with
Toronto Public Health, are helping members of the homeless and underhoused
communities 'beat the flu.'

Today the Community Medicine Program immunization team vaccinated members of
the homeless and underhoused communities at Toronto Council Fire Native
Cultural Centre, one of 32 clinics this year. To date, over 700 people from
this community have been vaccinated.

"People who are homeless have great difficulty accessing the regular health
care system," said Peter Macintyre, Manager of Community Safeguard Services
with Toronto EMS. "Because paramedics take the influenza immunization directly
to this vulnerable community, the problem of access is removed."

"Immunization against the flu saves lives," said Ameeta Mathur, Manager of the
Vaccine Preventable Disease Program with Toronto Public Health. "Our
partnership with Toronto EMS substantially increases the reach of the City's
vaccination program and ensures those most at risk can be protected from the

"Before being able to be fully involved in our programs, it's important that
our clients are healthy. Having paramedics bring the flu shots to our clients
helps us help them protect their health," said Andrea Chrisjohn, Acting
Director of Toronto Council Fire. "We're very happy that the paramedics came
here to vaccinate our clients, and we look forward to inviting them back next

Founded in 1978, Council Fire offers a tremendous variety of services to the
First Nations people of Toronto, and they have become an integral link in the
networking system among Native and non-Native agencies.

According to Health Canada, influenza is responsible for approximately 75,000
hospital admissions every year and is the sixth leading cause of death. This is
the fourth year in a row these clinics have been offered.

Media contacts:
Alexis Silverman, Toronto EMS, 416-338-2151
Larry Roberts, Toronto EMS, 416-392-2255
Susan Sperling, Toronto Public Health, 416-338-7974



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