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May 25, 2010
Toronto H1N1 report: vaccine rate 28 per cent, serious illness peaked as vaccine was made available
Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Director of Communicable Disease Control at Toronto Public Health (TPH), has released two reports on the response in Toronto to the 2009-10 H1N1 influenza pandemic. The first report summarizes and evaluates the response to the two waves of the outbreak, including disease surveillance, case investigation and management, public information, flu assessment centres and the immunization of the population. The second report provides data on immunization rates for healthcare workers.

Among the key findings in the first report:
• The estimated vaccination rate of Toronto residents was 28.2 per cent.
• The peak of infection in the second wave occurred at the end of October, just as vaccine was made available to priority populations; most of the serious illness occurred before significant immunity from vaccination was achieved.

“We led an unprecedented campaign of outreach to the residents of Toronto, and we had both successes and challenges,” said Dr. Yaffe. “At the local level we are required to follow the lead of federal and provincial authorities, but we know that people want a better system of vaccine delivery in the event of another outbreak such as this one, and so do we.”

The report outlines the difficulties associated with the decision by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) to change the vaccine distribution system normally used for seasonal flu in Toronto. Recommendations call for the MOHLTC to review options for efficient vaccine delivery and to clarify criteria for decision making during an influenza pandemic. Other recommendations call for Local Health Integration Networks to lead the coordination of flu assessment centres and for the Province to mandate the use of real-time surveillance for influenza-like illness.

A second report on immunization rates for healthcare workers shows that despite efforts to increase rates among health care workers before and during the H1N1 pandemic, vaccine coverage remained low and varied across acute (58 per cent), continuing (59 per cent), and long-term care (39 per cent) settings.

Both reports will be presented to the Board of Health on Tuesday, June 1, and are available at

Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. Toronto has won numerous awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. Toronto's government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents. For information about non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can dial 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Media contact:
Susan Sperling,
Toronto Public Health,



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