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COVID-19 in B.C.: Active cases increase, mostly in Vancouver Coastal and Interior Health; no new deaths; and more – The Georgia Straight

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For one of the first times in weeks, the number of active cases grew instead of decreased, with the most increases occurring in Vancouver Coastal Health and Interior Health.

However, it remains to be seen if this growth will be sustained over several days and whether or not it becomes a trend. 

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry had warned at a previous briefing that case numbers would begin to increase once more sectors reopened—it is now a matter of ensuring that case numbers remain within public health’s capacity to manage them and protecting the healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed.

Although many restrictions are being relaxed, Henry had also previously stated that every transmission offers an opportunity for the virus to mutate, which underscores the need to continue preventative measures even while vaccinated (which is not 100-percent protection).

In fact, reports have arisen from Israel that the Pfizer vaccine has decreased in efficacy in preventing infections and illness—something that has coincided with the dropping of physical distancing measures in Israel along with the proliferation of the Delta variant.  

Meanwhile in B.C., CBC News reported that a Denman Island family doctor, Dr. Stephen Malthouse, is asking the B.C. Supreme Court to stop the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. from disciplining him for statements he has made about COVID-19 on the basis of free speech.

CBC News previously reported in May that Malthouse had raised controversy for his views about opposing pandemic health restrictions and circulated an open letter that the novel coronavirus is not more deadly than the flu.  

Today, the B.C. Health Ministry is reporting 59 new COVID-19 cases.

Currently, there are 624 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, which is an increase of 20 cases since yesterday.

The new and active cases include:

  • 20 new cases in Fraser Health (177 total active cases, which is a decrease of two cases since yesterday);
  • 17 new cases in Interior Health (163 total active cases, which is nine more cases than yesterday);
  • 13 new cases in Vancouver Coastal Health (230 total active cases, which is an increase of 10 cases since yesterday);
  • four new cases among people from outside Canada (11 total active cases, or an increase of three cases);
  • three new cases in Island Health (15 total active cases, or an increase of three cases);
  • two new cases in Northern Health (28 total active cases, which is one fewer case than yesterday).

As of today, there are 86 individuals currently in hospital (one fewer case than yesterday), and 20 of those patients are in intensive care units (two fewer than yesterday).

With 35 recoveries since yesterday, there is now a cumulative total of 145,455 people who have recovered.

For another consecutive day, no new deaths have been reported. The cumulative total number of COVID-19-related fatalities remains at 1,759 people who have died.

B.C. has recorded a cumulative total of 147,856 cases in the province during the pandemic.

Since the provincial immunization program began in December, B.C. has administered 5,404,047 doses of Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca vaccines.

As of today, 78.2 percent (3,631,452) of eligible people 12 years and above have received their first dose, and 38.2 percent (1,772,595) have received their second dose.

Island Health announced today that two new COVID-19 vaccinations clinics have been established in the Comox Valley:

  • the clinic at the Florence Filberg Centre, which opened on July 1, will continue to operate as a replacement for the Glacier Gardens clinic;
  • a clinic has opened at the regional B.C. Assessment Authority office (2488 Idiens Way) in Courtenay.

The clinic at Glacier Gardens won’t reopen, due to high temperatures in the building.

Currently, there are four active healthcare outbreaks in:

  • longterm care: Rotary Manor Dawson Creek (Northern Health);
  • acute care: Laurel Place at Surrey Memorial Hospital, Eagle Ridge Hospital (Fraser Health), and Royal Inland Hospital (Interior Health);
  • assisted or independent living: none.

None of the five regional health authorities have declared any new healthcare or community outbreaks, and none added any new public exposure events or business closures.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) added the following six flights to its public exposures lists (for affected row information, visit the BCCDC website):

  • June 29: WestJet 174, Vancouver to Edmonton;
  • June 29: WestJet 3103, Calgary to Nanaimo;
  • July 1: Air North 510, Kelowna to Vancouver;
  • July 1: Philippine Airlines 116, Manila to Vancouver;
  • July 2: Aeromexico 696, Mexico City to Vancouver;
  • July 2: Flair 8448, Kelowna to Edmonton.

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Health Minister Adrian Dix must come clean on why B.C. is restricting fourth COVID-19 vaccinations – The Georgia Straight

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Former senior civil servant and diplomat Norman Spector shared a fascinating article with me this weekend from the Ottawa Citizen.

A family physician in the national capital, Dr. Nili Kaplan-Myrth, hoped to conduct mass vaccinations for people who want a fourth dose of COVID-19 but don’t qualify under Ontario’s rules.

She reportedly wanted to create a large outdoor “jabalooza” clinic but health officials refused to provide her with vaccines.

Ontario restricts access to fourth shots of COVID-19 vaccines to those who are 60 years of age or older.

Next door in Quebec, people can get fourth shots if they are 18 and older.

“I am receiving lots of individual requests for help,” Kaplan-Myrth tweeted on Sunday (June 26). “I can’t give you the vaccine at this time, but hands up (and DM) if you as plaintiffs want to bring this to court as a group. Would require a litigation team.”

There’s a tremendous amount of scientific data showing that COVID-19 vaccines lessen the severity of COVID-19. They reduce the likelihood of dying or being hospitalized from the disease.

However, COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness wanes over time. This is why Kaplan-Myrth is such a strong advocate for booster shots. She believes that these boosters are particularly important when so many people are not wearing masks indoors.

Keep in mind that COVID-19 initially presents as a respiratory infection.

In some cases, however, it causes serious brain injuries and cardiovascular problems. It’s especially dangerous for the immunocompromised, who are at higher risk of suffering severe COVID-19.

That’s because the virus that causes COVID-19 not only damages blood vessels and triggers blood clots, but also disrupts the immune system. Researchers have even linked immune dysfunction to serious brain injuries, which is explained in the video below.

Video of Here’s what we know about COVID-19’s impact on the brain

Video: Here’s what we know about COVID-19’s impact on the brain.

B.C. doesn’t want most under-70s to get fourth shots

In the face of all of this, B.C. continues adopting a hard line on the distribution of fourth vaccine doses.

This is the case even after Global News B.C. reporter Richard Zussman revealed that 226,000 doses intended for the vaccine-hesitant will expire at the end of July.

In B.C., you have to be 70 years of age or older and have gone six months since a previous COVID-19 vaccination to qualify for a fourth dose.

There are exceptions: Indigenous people, for example, can get a fourth dose if they’re 55 or older.

Below, you can read other exceptions listed by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control for those between the ages of 60 and 69.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control listed these exemptions, which qualify someone from 60 to 69 years old for a fourth COVID-19 vaccination.

However, when the Georgia Straight asked the Ministry of Health about who qualified for a fourth COVID-19 vaccination, it did not include what’s written after the letter “d”: “Caregiver of a frail elderly or moderately to severely immunosuppressed person”.

So it remains unclear in B.C. if a person between 60 and 69 who is a caregiver for either a frail elderly person or a moderately to severely immunosuppressed person is able to receive a fourth COVID-19 vaccination.

Yet it seems pretty clear from the exemptions above that if you are a cancer survivor or have kidney disease or have heart disease or have multiple sclerosis or have had a transplant and you’re under 70 in B.C., you will not qualify for a fourth COVID-19 vaccination under existing rules.

Why is B.C. being more restrictive with COVID-19 booster shots than Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan (where you only need to be 50-plus), as well as the entire United States?

Health Minister Adrian Dix needs to come clean on that.

What possible justification is there for withholding a fourth COVID-19 shot for British Columbians under 70, especially the immune-compromised, when 226,000 vaccine doses are set to expire next month?

Why is Dix so convinced that he knows better than the governments of Ontario, Quebec, and Saskatchewan?

We don’t know the answer.

That’s in part because our pusillanimous B.C. Liberal MLAs refuse to hold the provincial NDP government accountable for its COVID-19 policies.

Some on social media are speculating that the booster shots are being withheld as part of a population-level experiment—conducted without the people’s consent—on the efficacy of delaying second booster shots.

Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, through their actions, are giving oxygen to this hypothesis.

Who knows? There might even be a scientific justification for withholding booster shots.

But in the absence of evidence provided by the B.C. government, the health minister must get in front of a microphone on Monday (June 27) and provide a coherent explanation.

Failure to do so will only fuel more suspicion about the motives behind the government’s policy.

Perhaps it’s worth noting that in January 2021, Science published a study involving 188 people, which offered a glimmer of hope.

It showed that more than 95 percent of those who had recovered from COVID-19 had immune systems demonstrating “durable” memories of the virus, lasting up to eight months.

This prompted speculation on the National Institutes of Health website that the immune systems of those who are vaccinated would have lasting memories of the virus.

But a study of 188 people is insufficient as the basis for an entire provincewide policy.

Some might wonder if the government isn’t making fourth doses of COVID-19 vaccines available to those under 70 because of the cost of distribution or due to the labour shortage in the health-care sector.

Others might suspect it’s because the B.C. government thinks everyone is going to get COVID-19 anyway, so why bother?

If that’s the real reason, it’s a monumental disservice to those with compromised immunity. This should demand a response from Human Rights Commissioner Kasari Govender that goes well beyond writing a letter to Henry. Like by holding a public inquiry under section 47.15 of the B.C. Human Rights Code.

In the meantime, show us the evidence, Minister Dix, for why so many British Columbians are being denied a fourth COVID-19 vaccination.

And if you’re unwilling to do that, then please step aside so another health minister can do this in your place.

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Frank Bures: COVID shots for tots | Column | winonadailynews.com – Winona Daily News

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They are finally here! Vaccinations against COVID-19 were at last approved for the youngest people ages 6 months to 5 years old. Studies in children have been done showing definite protective benefits and no major adverse reactions occurring. The first step was the FDA approval after an advisory panel deliberated the week of June 13 — only 2 days — to vote unanimously to recommend authorization, stating the benefits outweigh any risks for young kids.

The CDC signed off on the vaccines June 18 with another unanimous vote. The two vaccines consist of the Pfizer mRNA version in adults, but a much-reduced dose of 3 micrograms instead of 30 micrograms, given in three doses to induce a high level of antibodies equivalent to young adults. The first two doses are spaced three weeks apart, and the third at least two months later. The study found only 10 COVID cases in the three-dose group and seven in the placebo group for an efficacy of 80%. The study included only a small number of patients. Most of the infectious disease and pediatrician experts cautioned not to lose sight of the fact that the vaccines were saving children’s lives.

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The Moderna mRNA vaccine is the same as the adult one but only a quarter of the dose at 25 micrograms in a two-dose series given four weeks apart. Both this and the Pfizer vaccine achieved the same levels of immunity that have protected young adults against severe disease. None of the developed COVID vaccines have achieved the ideal of elimination of the infection. But they have saved many lives.

In children, the risk from COVID is very real, even though hospitalization and deaths are lower than in adults. In children ages 1-4, COVID is the fifth leading cause of death. One source that looked at the period from January 2020 through May 2022 said 202 kids in this age group died from COVID. Another source quoted 480 kids dead from COVID. That’s more deaths per year than hepatitis, meningitis, rotavirus, and other common infectious diseases each caused before routine vaccinations for them were recommended. And the risk wasn’t limited to any particular group. More than half of the youngsters hospitalized due to COVID had no underlying conditions.

These vaccines have proven to be some of the safest of any for adults. In the preliminary studies in this age group the adverse reactions/side effects were mostly mild and short lived, much like those in adults, and similar to those from other vaccines. The main one was pain and redness or tenderness at the injection site. There might be some irritability, fatigue, or sleepiness, loss of appetite, headache, abdominal pain or discomfort, mild diarrhea, vomiting. But everyone got better quickly! Fevers were uncommon and mild in the participants. Those can be treated with acetaminophen.

A pediatric infectious disease specialist at Children’s Hospital, Denver, Colo., said it’s important to keep in mind that COVID-19 is now one of the vaccine-preventable diseases with the highest mortality rate. Hospitalization rates for children with COVID were five times higher during the recent wave than the worst previous points of the pandemic. Katherine Poehling, director of pediatric population health at Wake forest School of Medicine, said, “I am struck by these numbers. I’m also concerned there’s a real underappreciation of the potential severity.” FDA commissioner Robert Califf said, “Any death of a child is tragic, and should be prevented if possible.”

It’s a guarantee that, if a respiratory germ gets into a home, it gets into everyone living there. It may not take hold in each individual to create what we call disease for a host of reasons, but the microbe made the rounds, positive test or not. That includes every kid kissing you or sharing food with you.

The COVID variants currently crawling down our craws are killing fewer Americans daily than during any other period except the summer of 2021. But the country is now recording 10 times as many cases as it was at that time, indicating that a smaller number of cases are causing deaths. But COVID is still killing an average of 314 people a day. These darling little Petri (not “peach tree”) dishes we parents and grandparents love to hug and kiss can be vectors of so many viruses. The vaccines are a tool to help prevent that spread and contagion. It’s an incomplete tool, but it’s part of a larger effort to stop infections, along with hand washing, etc.

Maybe you could liken it to a fork among our eating utensils. We could eat most everything on the plate with that fork, but a knife and spoon sure help us to divide and down the delectables we can’t spear. The vaccines are essentially safe and a valuable tool. One preventable child’s death is one too many. Get your tot shot!

Dr. Bures, a semi-retired dermatologist, since 1978 has worked Winona, La Crosse, Viroqua and Red Wing. He also plays clarinet in the Winona Municipal Band and a couple dixieland groups. And he does enjoy a good pun.

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Moderna COVID-19 shots now an option for older kids in U.S. – CGTN

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A vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for children six months through five years old is seen, June 21, 2022. /AP

A vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for children six months through five years old is seen, June 21, 2022. /AP

There is now a second COVID-19 option for kids aged six to 17 in the U.S. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday announced it is recommending Moderna shots as an option for school-age kids and teens. This group has been able to get shots made by Pfizer since last year.

CDC sets the federal government’s vaccine guidance for U.S. doctors and their patients. 

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration authorized the shots – full-strength doses for children ages 12 to 17 and half-strength for those six to 11. The doses are to be given about a month apart. An expert advisory panel this week voted unanimously to recommend that CDC endorse the Moderna shots, too. 

Moderna officials have said they expect to later offer a booster to all kids aged six to 17.

Source(s): AP

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