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Pangnirtung prepares for flu

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  • Pangnirtung prepares for flu

    Pangnirtung prepares for flu

    Last Updated: Tuesday, November 3, 2009 | 4:59 PM CT

    CBC News

    As communities across Nunavut host H1N1 vaccine clinics this week, Pangnirtung officials say they intend to be ready if swine flu hits their community again this fall.

    The Baffin Island hamlet has organized a local pandemic preparedness committee that would deal with issues should the flu spread throughout the community, such as what would happen if a lot of municipal employees become ill.

    "Potentially, it could have a dramatic impact and that's why we wanted to do everything we could do to plan," Ron Mongeau, Pangnirtung's senior administrator, told CBC News.

    "There's what goes on within the walls of the health centre and there's what goes on outside of the walls of the health centre, and that's the part that the municipality has to play a role in."

    The committee will also help vaccination teams when they hold flu vaccine clinics in Pangnirtung.

    Residents in the Baffin Island hamlet recall being devastated by the flu in the 1940s, when non-Inuit sailors brought a flu virus to Pangnirtung that made many in the community ill.

    Resident Rosie Veevee said she was nine years old in 1941, when a virus killed many people.

    Speaking in Inuktitut, Veevee said her father, the late Aksaajuk Etooangat, transported sick people by dog team to get medical help from a nurse.

    But Veevee said everyone in Pangnirtung who was healthy during the outbreak also helped out, adding that she's happy to see the community working together again many decades later.

    "Safety and security don't just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear."
    -Nelson Mandela