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COVID-19 booster: Should you still get it if you're sick? – CTV News

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While the number of Canadians who have received their third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine continues to increase, competing with it is the rise of the Omicron variant.

Health officials continue to urge Canadians to get their third dose as a way of protecting against severe infection. While symptoms of Omicron may be milder compared to other variants, concerns remain over its high rate of transmissibility.

So, what should someone do if they start to develop COVID-19 symptoms right before they’re scheduled to get their third dose?

“People who have symptoms, with the prevalence of disease that we have, likely do have COVID and if you likely have COVID, now isn’t the time to rush to the booster,” Dr. David Carr, an emergency physician at the University Health Network in Toronto, told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview on Wednesday. “We wouldn’t recommend getting a booster shot in the course of an active infection.”

Instead, both Carr and Dr. Gerald Evans, chair of Queen’s University’s infectious diseases division in Kingston, Ont., recommend that anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should hold off on getting their third dose until they have recovered. This applies whether or not the symptoms are actually related to COVID-19 or a different virus, both said.

Part of the reason for this is a “reduced immunogenicity effect” that often comes with getting any kind of vaccine while experiencing a viral infection, said Evans, particularly if the infection is severe.

“We don’t give it to you while you’re acutely ill because the vaccine seems to have less of an effect in producing the response we want from the immune system,” he told CTVNews.ca on Wednesday in a phone interview. “Your immune system doesn’t seem to respond as well to the vaccine as it would when you’re feeling well.”

Generally speaking, this applies to any vaccine, both experts said. Another reason for this is that it can lead to confusion over whether any side-effects are related to the vaccine or a progression of the illness, said Carr.

“It confuses the clinical picture [and] can re-challenge your immune system, it’s just not the right time,” he said. “As a general rule of thumb, we don’t want to introduce a vaccine when someone’s not feeling well.”

HOW LONG SHOULD YOU WAIT?

Carr said that as a general principle with vaccines, it’s recommended to wait about a month after the onset of symptoms before getting vaccinated. If someone is infected with COVID-19, this provides them with more than enough time to recover, he said, and those who are infected with the virus should not be concerned about getting reinfected so soon after.

“A common parameter with most cases in virology is if you just had the illness, you’re probably not going to get the exact same illness right away, you have high levels of circulating antibodies that are going to protect you,” he said. “If you had COVID with Omicron today, I can’t see you being reinfected in three weeks, that’s just not going to happen.”

But Evans said that thanks to post-vaccine surveillance following the billions of doses that have been administered worldwide, data suggests that there don’t seem to be any issues with getting a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as the more serious symptoms have recovered.

Symptoms of COVID-19 often include a new or worsening cough and fever, as well as a sore throat and nasal congestion, said Evans. Once these symptoms show signs of starting to resolve, it’s OK to go ahead with getting a third dose of the vaccine, he said.

“Once your throat’s not so sore anymore, your nasal congestion is clearing up, you can breathe well [and] you’re not coughing anywhere near as much as you did…then that’s a reasonable time to book your vaccine,” he said.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean people need to wait until they’re feeling entirely back to normal again before getting their third dose, Evans said.

“Even the healthiest people, after they get a cold or the flu, oftentimes have some sort of lingering symptoms that can go on for a number of weeks,” he said. “[Maybe] that cough has lingered on a little bit, or they’re a bit more fatigued than they were before they were sick…don’t worry about those.”

According to recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if someone is experiencing any “moderate or severe illness,” it’s advised to wait until they recover before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. But for people with mild illnesses, or who have begun to see their symptoms improve, it’s possible to be vaccinated. Anyone who is, in fact, sick with COVID-19 is advised to postpone their vaccine until they have recovered from acute symptoms.

WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS?

If someone starts experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, the first step would be to confirm whether or not they are COVID-19-related by using either a rapid antigen or PCR test, Carr said. This is especially the case for people who aren’t vaccinated, as they are at “substantially higher risk for severe disease,” he said.

Still, Carr said that challenges around access and eligibility requirements can make it difficult for some people to get tested. If it’s not possible to get tested right away, he recommends following local public health guidelines and self-isolating for the required amount of time until symptoms have improved for at least 24 hours. He also suggests calling a family physician for further guidance, if needed.

From there, Evans advises to continue watching how symptoms develop over time; only when they start to clear should someone get their third dose, he said.

“Be patient, put off your vaccine and rebook,” said Evans.

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Nova Scotia reports 68 people in hospital because of COVID-19 – CBC.ca

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Nova Scotia has reported that 68 people are in hospital because of COVID-19, including 10 in intensive care.

A news release from the province Sunday said the patients are receiving specialized care in a COVID-19 designated unit.

The average age of the patients admitted for COVID-19 is 65, the release states. The majority of the patients, 65, were admitted during the Omicron wave. 

There are also two other groups currently in hospital related to the virus, according to the release.

  • 60 people who were identified as positive upon arrival but were admitted for another medical reason, or were admitted for COVID-19 but no longer require specialized care
  • 112 people who contracted COVID-19 after being admitted to hospital.

The abbreviated release did not provide the number of COVID-19 admissions and discharges. 

Nova Scotia Health labs completed 3,711 tests on Saturday and 696 new cases have been reported.

There are 447 cases in the central health zone, 108 in the eastern zone, 105 in the western zone and 36 in the northern zone.

Less than than 10 per cent of Nova Scotians are unvaccinated, according to provincial statistics.

As of Friday’s update, unvaccinated Nova Scotians were about four times more likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 than someone with two doses of vaccine. That is based on average hospitalizations since the province started releasing the daily hospitalizations by vaccine status on Jan. 4.

Summary offence tickets

Halifax Regional Police issued 11 summary offence tickets Sunday for violations of health regulations.

Police responded to reports of a party at a Bayers Road residence shortly before 1 a.m. Sunday.

Tickets were issued to 11 occupants for failing to comply with provisions of the Health Protection Act. 

The tickets carry a fine of $2,422.

Atlantic Canada case numbers

  • Newfoundland and Labrador reported one death and 384 new cases Sunday. There are 5,503 active cases and 12 hospitalizations. 
  • Prince Edward Island reported five hospitalizations Saturday. There were 309 new cases and 222 recoveries in Saturday’s report.
  • New Brunswick reported four more deaths and 115 hospitalizations Sunday. The province has 5,265 active cases.
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UK’s Johnson plans to scrap COVID-19 self-isolation law – The Telegraph

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The United Kingdom is drawing up plans under which people will not be legally bound to self-isolate after catching COVID-19, The Telegraph reported on Sunday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to permanently revoke emergency coronavirus laws as Britain’s COVID-19 cases continue to fall, the report said, adding official guidance would remain but would not result in fines or legal punishment if ignored.

The plans will be worked up over the coming weeks, with an announcement expected as early as the spring, the report said.

Last week, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said COVID-19 self-isolation in England will be cut to five days from seven if someone tests negative twice.

Johnson is also set to lift Plan B COVID-19 restrictions, introduced last month to slow the spread of the Omicron variant, according to an earlier Telegraph report.

 

(Reporting by Maria Ponnezhath in Bengaluru; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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'Choose increased antibodies over brand': Moderna appointments still being cancelled in London, Ont. area – CTV News London

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Doctors and pharmacists continue to advocate for people to get the first available mRNA vaccine for their COVID-19 booster dose.

“We have had some feedback that appointments are being canceled because people are holding out for Pfizer,” says Dr. Joyce Lock, the medical officer of health for Southwestern Public Health (SWPH).

“I strongly strongly urge everyone, particularly those over the age of 50, to choose increased antibodies over brand,” she added.

Lock made those statements during her weekly briefing on Jan 12.

“Our immunity following our original two doses is decreasing over time,” says Lock. “Our bodies don’t care what brand they receive. They follow the science, not the manufacturer. Studies show that immunity shoots back up after the booster and it doesn’t matter which brand.”

This week, First Ave. Pharmacy in St. Thomas, Ont. took to Facebook saying it had openings due to people refusing Moderna as a booster dose.“We send out a mass email saying that there’s a shortage of Pfizer and we might have to offer them Moderna and some people would cancel their appointment online or they would call us and cancel their appointments,” says Minh Nguyen, pharmacist at First Ave. Pharmacy. “Both Moderna and Pfizer are mRNA vaccines and equally effective at preventing severe illness from COVID. So I would say get whatever mRNA vaccine you can.”

Sunday, the Metrolinx Go-VAXX bus returned to London, Ont. It was stationed in the parking lot at the new East Lions Community Centre on Brydges St.

They had some appointments booked, but we were even taking walk-ins with Pfizer being administered.

“I’ve had Pfizer for my first two shots and that’s what I preferred,” says Michael Sean MacVoy, a truck driver getting his booster. “At this point, I didn’t care.”

Diane Crozman was in the same scenario, getting Pfizer a third time. “It doesn’t really make a difference to me,” she said. “They said the Moderna is going to work the same, but Pfizer that’s good because I’ve already got the other two Pfizer.”

Justin Seaward showed up for a walk-in booster, minutes after his wife went home from her booked appointment.

“I’ve had Pfizer, Moderna, then Pfizer now,” says Seaward. “It didn’t really make a difference much to me. I just wanted to be Vaxxed so I can feel safer for my family.”The Middlesex-London Paramedic Service (MLPS) had administered 2,194 doses of vaccine over the past six days since starting pop-up clinics in Middlesex County.

The percentage of people upset that Moderna was being administered is very low.

“It has happened a few times at the front door, but very rare,” says Miranda Bothwell, acting superintendent for special operations with MLPS.

They will be back on the road, continuing their pop-up clinic tour Monday in Lucan, Ont. 

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