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B.C. care homes deal with staffing shortages as vaccine deadline passes – CTV News Vancouver

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Victoria –

For those living in a long-term care home or assisted living facility in British Columbia, staffing shortages are neither new nor welcome, but they could worsen as nearly 2,000 workers in those industries are off the job because they aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19.

Dr. Bonnie Henry brought in a public health order with the requirement that staff in seniors’ care homes be immunized or, potentially, unemployed with a deadline of Oct. 12.

In a briefing, Health Minister Adrian Dix said of more than 48,000 workers, 1,996 were not vaccinated, adding many were casual employees. He also tried to reassure residents and their loved ones that care won’t be compromised.

“The province is working with health authorities and operators on a home-by-home basis to ensure that if workers do not make the decision to get vaccinated, contingency plans are in place to ensure residents continue to get the care they need,” said Dix.

Terry Lake with the BC Care Providers Association likened the system to outbreak protocols, where health authorities would backfill staff at homes.

Yet one care operator is raising concerns.

Hendrik Van Ryk, the VP of Human Resources at H and H Total Care Services, which runs several homes in B.C. under the name “The Hamlets” said the business is losing 20 staff, and 14 are full time. He said he reached out to several health authorities and was told they don’t have the resources to help.

“It’s putting a lot of stress on our vaccinated staff and that’s not sustainable,” added Van Ryk.

Workers who aren’t vaccinated will be suspended without pay and given time to get vaccinated. If they don’t comply with the vaccine mandate, Dix said, there could be more severe consequences.

“If a long-term care or assisted living worker refuses to be vaccinated, they will be subject to progressive discipline up to, and including, termination,” Dix said

While there’s concern about the impact on already overworked staff in an industry that’s seen shortages for years, Lake said for the most part, the worst fears didn’t materialize.

Visitors to seniors homes also need to show proof of having at least one shot — later this month. Anyone working or volunteering in acute or community care will also need to be vaccinated. Lake thinks that’s a good thing.

“Ultimately there will be some people who choose not to get the vaccine and I would argue health care is not the right profession for them.” 

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Hospitals in Saskatchewan face prolonged COVID-19 crisis, modelling shows

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COVID-19 patients will keep crowding hospital intensive care units (ICUs) in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan well into next year without government orders to limit public mixing, modelling data showed on Wednesday.

As the pandemic ebbed during the summer, the western farming and mining province lifted restrictions at the fastest rate in Canada along with neighbouring Alberta. Saskatchewan has since become the country’s  COVID-19 hotspots, with the lowest vaccination rate among provinces, and had to hastily reimpose restrictions such as masking in indoor public places.

“I have no shame in pleading to the public, that we’ve gone so far and we just have to pull along for the next weeks and months,” said Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab, who broke down with emotion during a media briefing. “It is distressing to see what is happening in our ICUs and hospitals and I’m sorry — it’s a very challenging time.”

The pandemic’s spread has forced Saskatchewan to fly some COVID-19 patients to Ontario for care and to cancel thousands of surgeries.

Saskatchewan’s modelling showed that severe cases will continue to overwhelm ICUs until March before beginning to decline, without a reduction in mixing, such as smaller gatherings, and greater access to vaccine booster shots. Reduced mixing should ideally last at least 28 days, Shahab said.

The provincial government, led by Premier Scott Moe, has declined to impose limits on private gatherings, however.

Canada’s daily case counts spiked in late summer, but have declined recently. Cases in Saskatchewan and Alberta have also started trending lower, however they have still recorded the highest rates of deaths among the 10 provinces in the past week, and the highest rates of active cases.

 

(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Editing by David Gregorio)

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SHA says COVID-19 protocols prevented a flu season last year – moosejawtoday.com

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The Saskatchewan Health Authority says last year’s flu season was prevented thanks to masks, physical and social distancing, and increased hand washing.

Dr. Tania Diener, the COVID-19 Immunization Co-Chief at the province’s Emergency Operations Centre, says that, “We effectively didn’t have a flu season here last year.”

With restrictions slowly lifting from a population feeling the stress of isolation and public health measures, the province is uncertain about whether or not a flu season will return this winter.

Dr. Diener emphasized that, “Our hospitals are already under strain due to the number of cases of COVID-19, especially among those who are unvaccinated, due to the new Delta variant. A further influx of people sick with influenza would further strain those resources, so we’re asking everyone to get their flu vaccine again this year.”

SHA says they have enough evidence at this point to conclude that receiving a COVID-19 vaccine and a flu vaccine together is safe, and they encourage everyone able to do so to get both vaccines as soon as possible. 

This year’s flu vaccine is quadrivalent, meaning it protects against four different flu variants, an improvement from last year’s, which was trivalent. 
Information on this year’s flu vaccine can be found here.

Those looking to book their flu and/or COVID-19 vaccine can go to 4flu.ca.

SHA’s full press release can be found here.

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Province says flu shots prevents serious illness, deaths – My Comox Valley Now

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The province wants you to roll up your sleeves for another kind of vaccine as we head into flu season.

Health officials are hoping you will take their advice and get a flu shot, which is free for everyone in B.C. older than six months.

They say the unique circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic and the strain it has put on the health-care system continue to make influenza immunization a priority.

“All British Columbians should get vaccinated against influenza to protect themselves and their loved ones from serious illness, to reduce the strain on our hard-working health workers and to do our part to make sure the health system continues to be there for people who need it, where they need it and when they need it,” said health minister Adrian Dix. 

“I’m grateful to all of our health-care workers, including physicians, pharmacists, nurses, nurse practitioners and others for how they help people get immunized to protect themselves and those they care about.”

Seasonal influenza and other respiratory viruses will be in communities alongside COVID-19 this fall and winter.

The province says it “has the potential to escalate pressures already faced by the health-care system, particularly if the effects from COVID-19 and seasonal influenza occur are the same.”

That is why vaccines are now available and the province continues to increase vaccine accessibility through many locations and vaccine providers throughout B.C.

“This year, it’s especially important for people to get vaccinated against influenza. Last year’s low influenza rates means our immunity against influenza is lower than usual,” said provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. 

“Getting your influenza vaccine this year is more important than ever to protect yourself, your community and our overstretched health-care system.”

Pharmacies around B.C. have played a key role in providing easy access to influenza vaccines since 2009. 

This year, vaccines are available to pharmacies through a direct-distribution model. 

This means pharmacies are able to order them directly from distributors, which the province says makes “influenza immunization easier and more flexible for people in B.C.”

“Pharmacists played a key role in helping people get immunized against COVID-19 earlier this year and administered the majority of influenza doses last year,” said Geraldine Vance, CEO, B.C. Pharmacy Association. “We’re proud of the role we continue to play in protecting our health-care system and keeping everyone safe.”

Flu vaccines have been available already for certain high-risk groups. 

As they become available more broadly to the public throughout the province, you’re asked to check their health authority’s website or call their health-care provider or pharmacist to check for availability and to make an appointment.

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