With news on COVID-19 happening rapidly, we’ve created this page to bring you our latest stories and information on the outbreak in and around Calgary.
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. —
When a Colorado woman found out her hospital wouldn’t approve her kidney transplant surgery until she got the COVID-19 vaccine, she was left with a difficult decision pitting her health needs against her religious beliefs.
Leilani Lutali, a born-again Christian, went with her faith.
Even though she has stage 5 kidney disease that puts her at risk of dying without a new kidney, Lutali, 56, said she could not agree to be vaccinated because of the role that stem cells have played in the development of vaccines.
“As a Christian, I can’t support anything that has to do with abortion of babies, and the sanctity of life for me is precious,” she said.
UCHealth requires transplant recipients to be vaccinated because recipients are at significant risk of contracting COVID-19 as well as being hospitalized and dying from the virus, spokesman Dan Weaver said. Unvaccinated donors could also pass COVID-19 to the recipient even if they initially test negative for the disease, he said.
“Studies have found transplant patients who contract COVID-19 may have a mortality rate of 20% or higher,” he said.
It’s not clear how common this type of policy is.
The American Hospital Association, which represents nearly 5,000 hospitals, health care systems and networks in the United States, said it did not have data to share on the issue. But it said many transplant programs insist that patients get vaccinated for COVID-19 because of the weakened state of their immune system.
While any type of surgery may stress a patient’s immune system and leave them vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 later, organ transplants recipients are even more at risk because they have to take a powerful regime of drugs to suppress their immune system to keep their body from rejecting the new organ, which is seen by the body as a foreign object, Nancy Foster, AHA’s vice president for quality and patient safety policy said in a statement.
“Further, if patients were to wait to get their vaccine until after the surgery, it is unlikely that their immune system could mount the desired antibody reaction given that they are taking anti-rejection medications,” she said.
Transplant centers in Washington, Vermont, Massachusetts and Alabama have polices requiring that recipients be vaccinated, according to news reports.
Cleveland Clinic recently decided to require COVID-19 vaccinations for both transplant recipients and living donors, the organization said in a statement.
Some health care systems recommend or strongly encourage vaccination for transplants, including the Mayo Clinic and Sentara Healthcare, two of the nation’s largest. The University of Alabama Birmingham’s School of Medicine transplant program only recommends that living donors receive a vaccine, but it does not require it for the donation process.
The best time to get a COVID-19 vaccine is before an organ transplant. If time allows, patients should get their second dose of the available vaccines at least a couple of weeks prior to transplant “so that your body has a good immune response to the vaccine,” said Dr. Deepali Kumar, the American Society of Transplantation’s president-elect and an infectious disease physician.
Many major religious denominations have no objections to the COVID-19 vaccines. But the rollout has prompted heated debates because of the longtime role that cell lines derived from fetal tissue have played a role, directly or indirectly, in the research and development of various vaccines and medicines.
Roman Catholic leaders in New Orleans and St. Louis went so far as to call Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 shot “morally compromised.” J&J has stressed that there is no fetal tissue in its vaccine.
Moreover, the Vatican’s doctrine office has said it is “morally acceptable” for Catholics to receive COVID-19 vaccines that are based on research that used cells derived from aborted fetuses. Pope Francis himself has said it would be “suicide” not to get the shot, and he has been fully vaccinated with the Pfizer formula.
Ethical considerations should take both individual and societal perspectives into account, Dr. Kumar said.
“It’s really what’s best for the patient at this time and from a societal perspective as well,” she said. “The more patients that get vaccinated, you know, we have better outcomes.”
To Lutali, a recruiter for tech companies, it seems like her hospital was so insistent on saving her from COVID-19 that is is willing to let her possibly die by blocking her transplant surgery.
Lutali, who does not belong to a denomination, said she does not live in fear of dying because of her belief in the afterlife. She is searching for another hospital, possibly in Texas or Florida, where she could get a transplant without being vaccinated.
“I have hope that something will come along that is something I can live with in terms of my choices,” she said.
Nieberg and Slevin reported from Denver.
With news on COVID-19 happening rapidly, we’ve created this page to bring you our latest stories and information on the outbreak in and around Calgary.
As Alberta grapples with a fourth wave of COVID-19 at the start of another school year, we’re looking to hear your stories on this evolving situation.
Four Alberta doctors are launching a lawsuit against Alberta Health Services and its president in opposition to the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for staff.
The plaintiffs include two rural family physicians, a Calgary anesthesiologist and a Calgary pediatric neurologist.
“Any medical procedure performed on a patient without their informed consent amounts to assault,” the statement of claim says.
Lorian Hardcastle, an associate professor in the faculty of law and Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary, said the claims about assault and informed consent seem “frivolous.”
“This isn’t a case where someone is being forcibly vaccinated. They’re being told that they either vaccinate or don’t work there,” said Hardcastle.
Here are COVID-19 numbers released today by Alberta Health:
OTTAWA – The pandemic may have seen a rise in the use of credit and debit cards, along with payment options like Square, but Canadians aren’t giving up on cash.
In fact, the Bank of Canada, which prints bills, says there was $17 billion more dollars out in circulation last year than before the pandemic — suggesting Canadians are sitting on a hoard of cash.
Bank of Canada spokesperson Raewyn Passmore said Canadians still use and appreciate physical currency and they don’t see a big shift away from cash coming anytime soon.
“Cash remains popular among Canadians, and in the foreseeable future, the bank will continue to supply Canadians with bank notes they can use with the highest confidence.”
The Bank of Canada believes people were holding onto their money in 2020. The amount of money out in circulation was $83 billion before the pandemic, but that swelled to over $100 billion by the end of 2020.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says he will not bring in additional COVID-19 measures because it ultimately takes away people’s personal freedoms.
Moe made the comment while delivering a state of the province address in Saskatoon to members of the city’s chamber of commerce.
Some medical experts and the Canadian Medical Association have been calling for restrictions on gathering sizes as hospitals continue to admit a high number of COVID-19 patients.
Alberta’s government says it plans to focus on jobs and diversifying the economy while keeping an eye on its COVID-19 response as the fall sitting of the legislature is set to start today.
There are between 18 and 20 bills the government hopes to pass before Christmas, including one that focuses on building infrastructure, and environmental legislation aimed at conservation and recreation.
NDP house leader Christina Gray told reporters at the legislature Friday the Opposition would be holding the government accountable for the health-care crisis.
The Canadian Armed Forces says it’s prepared to support Saskatchewan with up to six critical care nursing officers, who it says will be deployed to intensive care units.
The military also says it will provide medical air transport for in-province and out-of-province critical care patient transfers, as capacity allows, and may also supply a pair of Multipurpose Medical Assistance Teams to backfill the province’s nurses.
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair tweeted late Friday the federal government had approved a request for pandemic aid in Saskatchewan, including military support.
Blair also noted that Ottawa is also in talks with the province to provide additional help from the Canadian Red Cross and other health resources.
British Columbia is lifting capacity restrictions on gatherings across much of the province today, though some say not everyone will be ready to party like it’s early 2020 while still wearing a mask.
Residents in swaths of the province will be allowed to attend events like hockey games, concerts and weddings without any limits on numbers, but capacity will be capped at 50 per cent in areas where vaccination rates are low, including parts of the Fraser, Northern and Interior health regions.
Heidi Tworek, a professor who specializes in health communications at UBC’s School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, said employers, businesses expecting more customers and even individuals inviting someone over for dinner should expect a range of reactions because the lack of regular contact with people after nearly two years will have impacted some people’s mental health.
The majority of Canadian residents who received the federal Canada Recovery Benefit were continuous or repeat recipients of the now-ended aid program, an internal government analysis reveals.
The assessment from Employment and Social Development Canada found that by early June, 1.5 million, or about 75 per cent of the 1.8 million unique recipients of the benefit, were continuous or repeat beneficiaries.
Among them were some 627,000 recipients who applied and received the benefit for months at a time, never once taking a break.
The Canadian Press obtained a copy of the briefing note to the top official at the department under the access to information law.
Experts who reviewed the document suggested the analysis hints at the level of need for the income-support program, which came to an end over the weekend.
A B.C. man has been ordered to quarantine for two weeks after a CBSA officer refused to accept the digital version of his B.C. Vaccine Card
New Westminister resident Charles Wangersky recently returned to Vancouver airport with his wife and adult son after a trip to Florida for a family funeral. Wangersky said the border agent gave his son an order to self-quarantine as he didn’t have a scanner to read his QR code.
“There was a great deal of back and forth, trying to find his records with his personal care number, but in the end, they left him with a form to quarantine for two weeks,” said Wangersky. “Basically, he’s supposed to have absolutely no contact with anyone, until his two weeks are up.”
OTTAWA — Jennifer Hubert jumped at the opportunity to get her COVID-19 vaccine, but she’s not looking forward to having to make the decision about whether to vaccinate her three-year-old son Jackson.
She recognizes the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, but said she also understands her son is at a much lower risk for serious illness than older adults.
“To me it’s not a clear benefit,” she said.
While many parents were overjoyed at the news that Health Canada is considering approval of the first COVID-19 vaccine for kids age five to 11 in Canada, parents like Hubert are feeling more trepidatious, and public health officials said they are going to have a much more nuanced conversation with parents about vaccination than they did with adults.
While 82 per cent of eligible Canadians aged 12 and up are already fully vaccinated, a recent survey by Angus Reid shows only 51 per cent of parents plan to immediately vaccinate their kids when a pediatric dose becomes available.
WASHINGTON — Vaccines for kids between the ages of 5 and 11 will likely be available in the first half of November, top U.S. infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said on Sunday, predicting a timetable that could see many kids getting fully vaccinated before the end of the year.
“If all goes well, and we get the regulatory approval and the recommendation from the CDC, it’s entirely possible if not very likely that vaccines will be available for children from 5 to 11 within the first week or two of November,” Fauci said in an interview with ABC’s This Week.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials are reviewing the Pfizer/BioNTech application seeking authorization of its 2-dose vaccine for younger children, with its panel of outside advisers scheduled to weigh in on Oct. 26.
Several Calgary-area restaurants have been reprimanded by Alberta Health Services for not following provincial health orders.
Closure notices posted online show Purple Perk, located at 2212 4 St. S.W. in central Calgary, has had its food handling permit suspended until the business is able to show it has implemented the provincial restrictions exemption program and follow orders from the chief medical officer of health around masking and social distancing. The suspension will be reviewed on Nov. 2.
Meanwhile, Olifunt Bistro in Carstairs has been forced to close its indoor dining area only after customers were observed not being checked for proof of vaccination and staff were seen not wearing masks, according to a closure order dated on Oct. 21.
A closure order and permit suspension remain active against Without Papers Pizza on 9th Avenue S.E. after the restaurant was found to not be following public health orders earlier this month. The restaurant has been vocal on social media about its opposition to the province’s vaccination requirements for certain businesses.
Alberta officials are hopeful to receive an initial supply of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines from the federal government soon, but there is still no timeline on when the doses will arrive.
Premier Jason Kenney said three weeks ago his government had requested an inventory of the single-shot vaccine from Ottawa in a bid to bolster sluggish immunization rates in some areas of rural Alberta. Kenney projected those shots could be available in the first week of October.
Alberta Health said Friday the province has requested up to 20,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, also known as Janssen.
The deadline for British Columbia health-care workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is today.
The provincial health officer’s order covers doctors, nurses, students, residents, contractors, volunteers and all other health-care professionals.
Premier John Horgan says he’s hopeful that the small number of workers who are resistant to getting vaccinated will get the information they need to get their shots.
Those who don’t have their first dose of vaccine by the deadline can’t work unless they have a recognized exemption.
The order says unvaccinated workers who get their first shot before Nov. 15 can resume working seven days after the first dose, but they must wear personal protective equipment and take other precautions until they get their second shot.
The Health Ministry says 94 per cent of B.C. health workers were fully vaccinated as of Oct. 24, three per cent were unvaccinated and two per cent had one dose.
Overall, B.C. has reached an 89.6 per cent vaccination rate for first shots among eligible residents age 12 and up and 84.4 per cent have received their second dose.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Dr. Penny Ballem, the lead of the B.C. immunization rollout team, will provide an update on COVID-19 on Tuesday.
Billionaire Jeff Bezos-owned Blue Origin on Monday unveiled plans to develop a commercial space station called “Orbital Reef” with Boeing, aiming to launch the spacecraft in the second half of this decade.
The venture will be built in partnership with Sierra Space, the spaceflight wing of defence contractor Sierra Nevada Corp, and will be backed by Redwire Space, Genesis Engineering Solutions and Arizona State University.
Orbital Reef will be operated as a “mixed use business park,” and plans to provide the infrastructure needed to scale economic activity and open new markets in space, Blue Origin and Sierra Space said.
“Seasoned space agencies, high-tech consortia, sovereign nations without space programs, media and travel companies, funded entrepreneurs and sponsored inventors, and future-minded investors all have a place on Orbital Reef,” the companies said in a statement.
.<a href=”https://twitter.com/NASA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@NASA</a> plans on retiring the <a href=”https://twitter.com/Space_Station?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@space_station</a> at the end of the decade, but there’s still important work that needs to be done! <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/OrbitalReef?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#OrbitalReef</a> – <a href=”https://twitter.com/SierraSpaceCo?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@SierraSpaceCo</a>’s new space station, will be operational in the second half of this decade, ready for research! <a href=”https://t.co/d3LQIRneQh”>https://t.co/d3LQIRneQh</a> <a href=”https://t.co/2PalPlB9jn”>pic.twitter.com/2PalPlB9jn</a>
Sierra in April announced plans to offer the first free-flying commercial space station.
In July, Blue Origin had a successful debut space tourism flight, with Bezos and three others aboard. Earlier this month, 90-year-old Canadian actor William Shatner — Captain James Kirk of Star Trek fame — became the oldest person in space aboard a rocketship flown by Blue Origin.
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