By Camille Bains
THE CANADIAN PRESS
VANCOUVER- British Columbia’s top doctor has issued an order requiring children five and older to wear masks in public spaces, expanding a mandate for those aged 12 and up as the province prepares to vaccinate younger kids pending Health Canada approval.
Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday that about 340,000 children 11 and under would be eligible to get vaccinated when the policy is announced as early as next month.
Henry said priority would be given to those in the northern region, where COVID-19 transmission rates are highest due to lower vaccine uptake.
The quick spread of COVID-19 in the north is causing serious illness, including among younger residents, as hospitals are “pushed to the limit,” she said.
“There are some communities, particularly in the northwest, Haida Gwaii, for example, Prince Rupert, where vaccination rates are really high and we’re not seeing that type of transmission. But there are other communities where things are not going as well,” Henry said.
“I will caution as well we know that influenza spreads really easily among younger children, especially infants and young babies.
But it can also cause severe illness in school-aged children and can spread really rapidly. So, these are things that we need to start thinking about right now as we move into the fall.”
Henry said public health officials are working with the Northern Health authority to determine if more regional measures are needed to prevent transmission, including booster doses as a way to manage outbreaks.
Private gatherings, including ceremonies, funerals and celebrations, are a source of transmission that can spread as people travel from one community to another, she said.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said 55 critically ill people have been transferred from parts of the north to intensive care units elsewhere in the province and that 43 of them were infected with COVID-19. Only one of them was fully vaccinated, he added.
B.C. recorded 2,090 cases of COVID-19 over the last four days, along with 28 deaths, for a total of 2,029 fatalities.
A public health order requiring staff at long-term care and assisted living facilities to be vaccinated with at least one dose as a condition of their employment came into effect on Tuesday, with a similar order coming later this month for health-care workers in acute and community care settings.
Nearly 49,000 people are employed at 546 long-term and assisted-living homes in B.C. and 93 per cent of them have been fully vaccinated, Dix said, adding the province is working with health authorities to ensure residents continue to receive care if workers decide not to get vaccinated.
He said vaccine uptake went to 96 per cent from 90 per cent for first doses after Henry announced the mandate, but that still meant the province had to provide additional support at some facilities like in the north.
“We’re also preparing, of course, for a significantly larger challenge in terms of sheer numbers of workers, three times the number of workers, who are still to come in the broader mandate for all health-care workers,” he said.
“If a long-term care or assisted-living worker refused to be vaccinated, they will be in breach of the provincial health officer’s residential care preventive measures order, the Public Health Act and employer policy. They will be subject to progressive discipline, up to and including termination.”
Terry Lake, CEO of the BC Care Providers Association, said staff at some facilities have been called in when they hoped to be on vacation, while others are working more overtime or at other homes to fill in for those who did not get vaccinated.
“With all those mitigation strategies in place, the worst-case scenarios have been avoided. And a big part of that is allowing people to continue working with their first dose and giving them more time to get their second dose,” he said.
While most of the long-term care facilities in the north are operated by the local health authority, Lake said the association has seen more of a challenge with workers in the Interior region choosing not to get vaccinated.
“We have a site in Kamloops, for instance, that had at least five staff members put on unpaid leave today, and one site in Kelowna with seven staff members put on unpaid leave.”
Workers can return to work seven days after their first dose, with precautions in place, and Lake said he’s hopeful many will decide to take that route.
“What we do know is that some people have taken early retirement rather than comply with the vaccine mandate,” he said
Lake said it’s up to the province and the federal government to come up with a strategy to deal with a critical staffing shortage that existed in long-term care facilities before the pandemic struck.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 12, 2021.
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EOHU recommending flu shots for area residents, as winter approaches – The Review Newspaper
As the fall and cooler weather arrive, they bring with them the start of flu season. According to the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, the flu shot is the best protection against the flu, and with the presence of COVID-19 in the community, getting your flu shot is more important now than ever. The flu shot has been approved for use alongside COVID-19 vaccines and is a key step in keeping healthy this season.
“It’s especially important that people get their flu shot this year,” says Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health at the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU). “Both COVID and the flu share symptoms and, despite their similarities, being fully vaccinated for COVID won’t protect you from the flu.”
“Getting the flu shot can help you stay healthy and reduce the pressure on health care centres.”
Getting the flu shot could also help reduce the demand on COVID-19 assessment centres. The fewer number of people who develop flu symptoms, the fewer who will need to get tested for COVID-19.
The flu shot is available at various locations throughout the five Eastern Counties and Cornwall, including through some healthcare providers, community health centres, participating pharmacies and by appointment at the EOHU for children ages 6 months to under 5 years, and their immediate family.
Appointments for children at the EOHU will be available as of November 1. Call to book your child’s appointment starting on October 25. Residents must bring a piece of identification to their appointment. To find out more about where you can get the flu shot, visit EOHU.ca.
Certain groups of people are at higher risk of complications from the flu and are strongly encouraged to get immunized. These include:
- children 6 months to less than 5 years of age
- people aged 65 and older
- people with chronic medical conditions
If you live with or provide care to someone who falls under one of the groups listed above, or care for newborn infants and children under 6 months of age, it is also highly recommended that you get immunized. This simple step will help protect you and those around you.
For more information about the flu shot, visit EOHU.ca or call 613-933-1375 or 800-267-7120.
Facebook, YouTube take down Bolsonaro video over false vaccine claim
Facebook and YouTube have removed from their platforms a video by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in which the far-right leader made a false claim that COVID-19 vaccines were linked with developing AIDS.
Both Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s YouTube said the video, which was recorded on Thursday, violated their policies.
“Our policies don’t allow claims that COVID-19 vaccines kill or seriously harm people,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement on Monday.
YouTube confirmed that it had taken the same step later in the day.
“We removed a video from Jair Bolsonaro’s channel for violating our medical disinformation policy regarding COVID-19 for alleging that vaccines don’t reduce the risk of contracting the disease and that they cause other infectious diseases,” YouTube said in a statement.
According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), COVID-19 vaccines approved by health regulators are safe for most people, including those living with HIV, the virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, known as AIDS.
Bolsonaro’s office did not respond immediately to a request for comment outside normal hours.
In July, YouTube removed videos from Bolsonaro’s official channel in which he recommended using hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin against COVID-19, despite scientific proof that these drugs are not effective in treating the disease.
Since then, Bolsonaro has avoided naming both drugs on his live broadcasts, saying the videos could be removed and advocating “early treatment” in general for COVID-19.
Bolsonaro, who tested positive for the coronavirus in July last year, had credited his taking hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, for his mild symptoms. While Bolsonaro himself last January said that he wouldn’t take any COVID-19 vaccine, he did vow to quickly inoculate all Brazilians.
In addition to removing the video, YouTube has suspended Bolsonaro for seven days, national newspapers O Estado de S. Paulo and O Globo reported, citing a source familiar with the matter.
YouTube did not respond to a separate Reuters request for comment regarding the suspension on Monday night.
(Reporting by Pedro Fonseca in Rio de Janeiro; Additional reporting by Gram Slattery in Rio de Janeiro and Anthony Boadle in Brasilia; Writing by Gabriel Araujo; Editing by Leslie Adler)
Exclusive: African Union to buy up to 110 million Moderna COVID-19 vaccines – officials
The African Union (AU) intends to buy up to 110 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna Inc in an arrangement brokered in part by the White House, which will defer delivery of some doses intended for the United States to facilitate the deal, officials told Reuters.
The AU’s doses will be delivered over the coming months, with 15 million arriving before the end of 2021, 35 million in the first quarter of next year and up to 60 million in the second quarter.
“This is important as it allows us to increase the number of vaccines available immediately,” AU coronavirus envoy Strive Masiyiwa said in an email. “We urge other vaccine producing countries to follow the lead of the (U.S. government) and give us similar access to buy this and other vaccines.”
Masiyiwa said the Moderna purchase represented the first time the 55-member AU had secured vaccines that were not fully produced in Africa.
The new shipments of vaccine are well below what Africa needs to vaccinate its 1.3 billion people, who have had far less access to the life-saving vaccines than more prosperous parts of the world. Getting access to Moderna vaccines adds diversity to the AU’s vaccine supply with different storage requirements.
The Biden administration is deferring delivery of 33 million doses it had bought from Moderna to give the AU its “spot in line” to make a purchase, according to Natalie Quillian, the White House’s deputy coordinator for COVID-19 response.
“We are grateful to have helped negotiate this encouraging step forward between Moderna and the African Union that will significantly expand access to vaccines on the continent in the near-term,” Quillian said.
The United States, which has seen more than 700,000 people die from COVID-19, is flush with vaccines. The delayed Moderna deliveries will not have an impact on efforts to provide booster shots to already inoculated Americans, Quillian said.
Moderna said it was working to make it possible to fill doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in Africa by 2023 and has plans to build a manufacturing plant on the continent.
“This is the first step in our long-term partnership with the African Union,” Moderna Chief Executive Stéphane Bancel said in a statement, referring to a Memorandum of Understanding to make up to 110 million doses for the AU.
Last month, the AU accused https://www.reuters.com/article/health-coronavirus-who/update-1-african-union-slams-vaccine-manufacturers-for-restricting-access-idINL8N2QG4CK COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers of denying African countries a fair chance to buy vaccines and urged manufacturing countries, in particular India, to lift export restrictions on vaccines and their components.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Robert Birsel)
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