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Inquiry hears Edmonton nurse gave flu shots to staff, family to prevent waste
The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, January 17, 2013 5:51PM MST
An Edmonton nurse says she opened a closed clinic to give pandemic flu shots to staff, friends and relatives because she didn't want the vaccine to go to waste.
Susan Smith has told Alberta's provincial queue-jumping inquiry that the city's mass public clinics had closed for a few days in 2009 due to a national shortage of the H1N1 vaccine.
She said some mixed, already-open vaccine vials were in a refrigerator at the Boonie Doon Public Health Centre, but they were soon going to go bad.
She decided to give some of the remaining vaccine to 15 people, eight of them children.
She said she felt it was the right thing to do and didn't tell any managers.
"We were in a crisis, we were in an emergency situation and we had a very limited resource that we did not want to waste," Smith said.
"My feeling was not to waste the vaccine and that was more important than anything really."
At the time, thousands of people were waiting in line for hours at clinics to get the shots.
The queue-jumping inquiry is now exploring the ethics of giving flu shots so they wouldn't go to waste.
There are no explicit rules forbidding the action at the time.
"We were really actually focused on having the manpower to serve the public so when we looked at that, part of the rational was we didn't' want a nurse home with a sick child for their immediate family and two, I could have a nurse take a day off, spend five hours waiting in line versus working those five hours so part of the rational for that was having those nurses available for work," said Christine Westerlund with Alberta Health Services.
With files from CTV Calgary