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Bivalent vaccine offers double protection, Piggott explains – The Peterborough Examiner



The new bivalent vaccine against COVID-19 is available in Peterborough now as a booster shot.

At least 200 local residents from high-risk groups have already had the shot. Everyone 18 and older will become eligible to book an appointment for it as of Sept. 26.

On Thursday afternoon, medical officer of health Dr. Thomas Piggott went live on Instagram to answer questions from citizens about the new vaccine.

Here are some highlights:

Q: What is a bivalent vaccine anyway? What does the word ‘bivalent’ even mean?

A: “It means it (the vaccine) has got two strains of COVID-19 protection in it,” Piggott said.

He said it protects against the original strain that began circulating in December 2019 (same as the vaccine we’ve had for the last 18 months), and it also protects against the Omicron variant BA. 1.

“In creating the protection against both, the anticipation is that it will be more effective and helpful in preventing infection.”

Q: So does that mean this vaccine will offer nearly absolute protection against infection?

A: Piggott said that isn’t exactly clear, yet.

When the first (monovalent) vaccines came out in January 2021, he said, studies showed them to reduce infection by about 95 per cent.

But that was when only the original strain of COVID-19 was circulating — no variants, yet.

“When some of the variants started emerging, they started escaping your immune system — and even with vaccination, there could be a spread of infection. There was a reduction (in infection), but it was much smaller: maybe about 20 to 30 per cent, instead of that 95 per cent,” Dr. Piggott said.

He added that scientists anticipate this new bivalent vaccine “will still be very effective” in protecting people against severe disease and death from COVID-19, but it’s unknown yet whether it will reduce infection by 95 per cent.

Q: Is the bivalent vaccine safe?

A: Yes, said Piggott.

“The safety is very much the same as with the monovalent vaccine, which is now known to be safe: More than 10 billion doses given worldwide. With this vaccine, we are confident that COVID-19 vaccines are safe,” he said.

Q: Can you get the bivalent vaccine in Peterborough yet?

A: Yes, Piggott said it’s been it’s been offered all week by Peterborough Public Health (about 200 local people had received it by Wednesday).

As of this week you were eligible to make an appointment if you are:

  • 70 years of age or older (born in 1952 or before)
  • A First Nations, Inuit, or Métis adult (18-plus) or a household member (18-plus) of someone fitting that criteria
  • A health-care provider (18-plus)
  • Pregnant (18-plus)
  • Living in long-term care, a congregate setting, a retirement home or elder care lodge
  • Immunocompromised (12-plus)

Starting Sept. 26, you will be eligible to receive a bivalent vaccine locally if you live in the Peterborough area and you are 18 or older.

Q: How soon after my last booster can I book my bivalent vaccine?

A: Piggott said the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends waiting six months after the last booster shot before receiving the new bivalent booster.

“And that’s because there’s good evidence that protection (from your previous booster) should last six months,” he said.

“If it’s been more than six months since your third of fourth dose, then you should come forward for an additional booster this fall. And that will most likely be a bivalent vaccine.”

However, he also said it is possible to receive a bivalent booster sooner: the provincial government will allow it 84 days following your last booster.

Piggott said that if you have medical risk factors, for example — or you live with someone who does — you may want to speak to your health-care provider about shortening the time between a booster and a bivalent vaccine.

However that won’t be for everyone.

“Generally I still support the recommendation that NACI has, that the six-month time period is probably the right point to get a booster,” Piggott said.

Q: What if it’s been six months since my last booster but I’ve had COVID-19 lately? Should I book a bivalent booster now?

A: Wait a bit.

“The recommendation is to wait three months or more” after a COVID-19 infection before getting this bivalent booster,” Piggott said.

He said that’s because people are “less likely” to experience a recurrence of COVID-19 within three months of an infection.

Piggott also said that waiting awhile can offer the best protection possible from the vaccine.

“Waiting that three months is going to mean you’ll have a stronger immune response from the vaccine — and the protection will last longer,” he said.

Q: Can I get both an influenza vaccine and a bivalent COVID-19 booster this fall?

A: Yes, although Piggott said it’s best to wait two weeks after receiving one vaccine before receiving the other.

He also said influenza could resurge this season in Peterborough.

“Flu is likely going to make a significant comeback — so make sure you get your flu vaccine when it’s available, which will be later this fall.”

The full 33-minute video can be viewed at

People can book appointments online at book appointments online at or by calling 1-833-943-3900. Participating local pharmacies also offer doses by appointment.

The health unit’s vaccine clinic is located on the lower level of Peterborough Square. The health unit requires mask to be worn at the clinic. Walk-ins are not being accepted for now.

There is a clinic for people 12 and older on Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pediatric doses are only available next week locally from local pharmacies or health-care providers.

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Artificial sweeteners tied to increased heart risk, new study finds – The Globe and Mail



Participants in the study who had a higher intake of total artificial sweeteners had an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease compared to non-consumers.NYSE/PEPSICO Handout via Reuters

Artificial sweeteners are added to thousands of foods and beverages – soft drinks, yogurts, pancake syrups, jams, baked goods, frozen desserts, chewing gum, candy – to help us satisfy our sweet tooth with fewer (or zero) calories and no added sugar.

But the effect of artificial sweeteners on body weight and health has long been debated.

Short-term randomized controlled trials have mostly shown that, when substituted for sugar-sweetened beverages, artificially-sweetened drinks help prevent weight gain.

Findings from numerous observational studies, however, suggest that over the long-term, a regular intake of these substances can have harmful effects on cardiometabolic health including increased waist circumference, elevated blood sugar, insulin resistance and inflammation.

Now, new research published in The British Medical Journal adds to growing evidence that a high intake of artificial sweeteners may harm cardiovascular health.

The latest findings

For the study, researchers examined the link between artificial sweetener intake and risk of cardiovascular disease in 103,388 participants enrolled in the NutriNet-Santé study, an ongoing nutrition and health study conducted among adults living in France.

Participants, who were followed for close to a decade, provided three days’ worth of 24-hour diet records, which included brand names of products, at the start of the study and every six months thereafter. The researchers calculated participants’ intakes of total artificial sweeteners (from foods, beverages and tabletop sweeteners), as well as intakes of different types of artificial sweeteners.

Diet soft drinks accounted for half (53 per cent) of artificial sweeteners consumed. Other important contributors were tabletop sweeteners (30 per cent) and flavoured dairy products, such as yogurt and cottage cheese (8 per cent). Aspartame, acesulfame potassium and sucralose represented most of the total artificial sweetener intake.

Participants who had a higher intake of total artificial sweeteners had an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease compared to non-consumers. The average daily artificial sweetener intake among people classified as “higher consumers” was 77 mg, equivalent to roughly two packets of tabletop sweetener or 200 mL of diet pop.

Aspartame intake was linked to a greater risk of stroke; sucralose and acesulfame potassium were associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease.

The researchers accounted for several factors tied to cardiovascular risk including age, family history, smoking, physical activity and diet components.

Strengths, caveats

The study’s strengths include its large sample size and high quality dietary data. The researchers collected repeated 24-hour diet records, which are known to be more precise than food frequency questionnaires typically used in nutrition studies.

One limitation of this study is that the findings show correlations only; they don’t establish a cause-and-effect relationship.

As well, it’s possible that some participants assessed as higher consumers at the start of the study had increased artificial sweetener intake in response to having risk factors for cardiovascular disease and may have already been in poorer cardiovascular health.

Artificial sweeteners may activate sweet taste receptors in the gut, which can alter the body’s regulation of blood glucose.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

How artificial sweeteners may harm

These new findings are consistent with those from several other large observational studies that investigated the association between artificially sweetened soft drinks and cardiovascular disease risk.

There are plausible ways in which artificial sweeteners may increase heart risk. Previous studies have linked artificially sweetened beverages to metabolic syndrome, a collection of risk factors for cardiovascular disease that can include abdominal obesity, elevated blood pressure, high blood triglycerides, increased blood sugar and low HDL (good) cholesterol.

Ultraprocessed foods tied to colorectal cancer risk, study finds

Artificial sweeteners may also activate sweet taste receptors in the gut, which can alter the body’s regulation of blood glucose.

And experimental studies have shown that some artificial sweeteners alter the composition of the gut microbiome in a direction that can lead to inflammation and glucose intolerance.

What to do?

Due to a lack of consensus on whether the habitual use of non-sugar sweeteners is effective for long-term weight loss, or tied to other long-term health effects, in July the World Health Organization proposed a draft guideline recommending that “non-sugar sweeteners not be used as a means of achieving weight control or reducing the risk of non-communicable diseases.”

If you’re a daily consumer of artificial sweeteners, I do advise cutting back. That doesn’t mean it’s necessary to completely avoid them; there is no evidence that occasional use is harmful.

Replace soft drinks with sparkling water, unsweetened flavoured carbonated water or plain water with a wedge of citrus fruit.

If you add a packet of sweetener to coffee, tea or hot cereal, cut back gradually and incrementally. Ditto for real sugar.

Replace artificially sweetened yogurt with plain yogurt; sweeten it with fruit.

The good news: your taste buds will come to prefer a less sweet taste.

Leslie Beck, a Toronto-based private practice dietitian, is director of food and nutrition at Medcan. Follow her on Twitter @LeslieBeckRD

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Health unit hosting pop-up COVID vaccine clinics – BradfordToday



The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is continuing to offer one-day pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinics at locations throughout Simcoe Muskoka, with upcoming clinics taking place from Sept. 26 to Oct. 2. Walk-ins for individuals aged 5 years and older will be available, including the bivalent booster dose for people 18 years of age and older, as capacity allows as follows:

Monday, Sept. 26

  • Clinic location:  POP-UP Clinic – Stayner Arena and Community Centre, 269 Regina St. Stayner
    Time: 1 – 6 p.m.
  • Clinic location:  POP-UP Clinic – Chappell Farms, 617 Penetanguishene Rd., Barrie
    Time: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept 27

  • Clinic location:  POP-UP Clinic – South Innisfil Community Centre, 1354 Killarney Beach Rd, Innisfil
    Time: 10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept 28

  • Clinic location:  POP-UP Clinic – Huntsville Trinity United Church, 33 Main St. E., Huntsville
    Time: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 29

  • Clinic location:  POP-UP Clinic – Orillia Common Roof – Boardroom, 169 Front St. S., Orillia
    Time: 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

GO-VAXX bus and mobile clinics continue to operate on an appointment only basis. Appointments for the GO-VAXX clinics may also be booked up to four days prior to the clinic through the COVID-19 vaccination portal or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900. 

The health unit continues to offer COVID-19 vaccinations on an appointment only basis to individuals aged six months and older at the Georgian Mall, 509 Bayfield St. (upper level) in Barrie: 

  • Wednesday: 1 p.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Friday: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Saturday: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Appointments are also available at the health unit office immunization clinic locations in Midland, Orillia, Cookstown, Collingwood, Huntsville and Gravenhurst and can be booked through the COVID-19 vaccination portal or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900.

In addition, the RVH COVID-19 Immunization Clinic at 29 Sperling Dr. in Barrie continues to offer booked appointments and walk-ins from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Appointments may also be booked with the Couchiching Ontario Health Team Clinic  located in the Orillia Soldier’s Memorial Hospital Kiwanis Building – West Entrance 170 Colborne St., W.

Individuals six months of age and older may also receive the vaccine at some local pharmacies or booked appointments through some primary care providers, and Family Health Teams who are offering the vaccine as part of their regular clinical practice. Pop-up and GO-VAXX mobile clinics will continue to be scheduled throughout Simcoe and Muskoka.

Staying up to date with all COVID-19 vaccine doses you are currently eligible for remains the best defense against infection, severe illness, long term COVID-19 symptoms, hospitalization and death.

For more information about COVID-19 vaccination, dose eligibility and booking an appointment, please visit


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Advancing care for burn patients | Queen's Gazette – Queen's University



New research finds that glutamine, previously thought to help with burn injuries, does not improve patients’ time to discharge from hospital.

Dr. Daren Heyland, Director of the Clinical Evaluation Research Unit at Queen’s University and principal investigator and sponsor of the glutamine trial.

Queen’s researcher Daren Heyland (Medicine) has spent his career studying what nutrients are best for intensive care patients who cannot eat for themselves, trying to understand if certain nutrients assist with their recovery. Patients in intensive care who cannot eat for themselves are fed artificial nutrition through a feeding tube or an intravenous catheter. For over 20 years, Dr. Heyland has been evaluating the role of glutamine, which is an amino acid that is made in the body and is found in foods like fish, eggs, and nuts.  

Worldwide, burn injuries are among the most expensive traumatic injuries to treat and 50 per cent of burn patients are treated using glutamine. Before adopting this practice more broadly, however, the medical community wanted more evidence of the efficacy of glutamine.

Seeking to understand the role of the amino acid in burn recovery, Heyland has been involved in a decade-long scientific trial involving 1,200 patients around the world with severe burns. The study was recently published in the high-impact New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), and marked the first time a clinical trial on burn patients was featured in the prestigious publication. It yielded some unexpected results – the glutamine did not appear to harm or help burn patients.

“In the past, small, single-centre trials had suggested that glutamine was beneficial in the recovery of patients with severe burns. However, our previous work with glutamine in stressed, sick patients suggested that glutamine might actually be harmful in critically ill patients with organ failure. The only way to resolve these conflicting data was to conduct a large trial evaluating glutamine in severe burns,” said Dr. Heyland.

Dr. Heyland is the Director of the Clinical Evaluation Research Unit at Queen’s University, which functioned as the coordinating centre for the trial. He also serves as the principal investigator and sponsor of the trial, partnering with over 60 hospital burn units in nearly 20 countries.

“It took us 10 years to complete the trial, including recruiting patients and securing funding,” said Dr. Heyland. “The results of this trial will hopefully cause burn units that were using glutamine to put a stop this unnecessary practice.”

The trial was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Department of Defense (DOD) in the U.S. through their competitive granting programs. About 20-30 per cent of wounded soldiers have burns, and the DOD is looking for new ways to manage burns.

Dr. Heyland’s research evaluating the use of nutrition or specific nutrients and their role in improving the recovery of critically ill patients is not over. With $1.5 million in new funding from the DOD, he is now looking at high-dose intravenous vitamin C in burn-injured patients, which may help reduce the amount of fluid burn patients require to stay alive.

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