After frustration at vaccination centres across the province, health officials were appealing for calm Friday, but are also warning Montrealers that the city's inoculation strategy could be affected by a shortage of the H1N1 vaccine.

The Head of Montreal's Health Agency David Levine concedes Montreal may be behind other regions by a few days, but says it's taking longer because Montreal has such a large clientele compared to other regions.

Montrealers will next week receive a pamphlet with all the information they need on how, where and when to get vaccinated.

Levine is urging the public to be patient, wait their turn and says there is no crisis.

"Last April, there was the exact same virus, exact same consequences, no vaccine. Today, it's the exact same virus, exact same consequences. There hasn't been an increase in consequences compared to the first time the virus was here in April," said Levine.

"We happen to have the vaccine at this time. We're providing it. Nobody should be in an anxious situation because of this."

Meanwhile, Quebec Health Minister Yves Bolduc wants to assure Quebecers that the government is in control of the situation.

At a press conference in Gatineau Friday morning, Bolduc said vaccination centres have the right to refuse to vaccinate people who do not fit the criteria for being on a priority list that determines who gets the H1N1 shot first.

The people at the top of the priority list are:

  • health-care and emergency workers
  • children between six months and five years old
  • pregnant women
  • people with chronic illnesses

Bolduc said each vaccination centre can decide whether to give the shot to people who are not on the priority list, depending on the situation in their region.

He also said that the long lineups at certain vaccination centres on Thursday were no longer a problem.

"Absolutely not. We're going to have the same plan. The plan is to vaccinate the whole population and as soon as possible," said Bolduc

Upon their arrival, people who want to be vaccinated are now handed a coupon that indicates a time when they should return, in order to avoid a lengthy wait, Bolduc said.

In response to accusations from the Parti Quebecois that Quebec has not been given its fair share of the doses of vaccine available across the country, Bolduc said that simply isn't the case.

Bolduc said the province receives more than 400,000 vaccines per week.

With files from The Canadian Press