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COVID-19 in B.C.: More new cases in Northern Health than Vancouver Coastal; active cases decrease; and more – The Georgia Straight

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Today’s COVID-19 numbers are a mixed bag.

Something encouraging to note is that the overall total of active cases in B.C. decreased today.

But something of concern is that Northern Health, possibly for the first time, is reporting more new cases than Vancouver Coastal Health.

That follows after new health measures were announced yesterday to address a sudden surge in cases in Northern Health.

In recent days, Interior and Fraser Health have been increasingly reporting similar numbers of new and active cases. Active cases in Interior Health have decreased for a second consecutive day.

Active cases remained about the same as yesterday in Island Health while they resumed decreasing in Vancouver Coastal Health.

However, hospitalized cases in B.C. have continued to grow in number, surpassing 200 cases. 

Today, the B.C. Health Ministry is reporting 671 new COVID-19 cases (including four epi-linked cases).

Currently, there are 5,872 active cases, which is a drop of 59 cases since yesterday.

The new and active cases include:

  • 230 new cases in Interior Health, with 1,965 total active cases (147 fewer cases than yesterday);
  • 230 new cases in Fraser Health, with 1,689 total active cases (73 more cases);
  • 89 new cases in Northern Health, with 595 total active cases (42 more cases);
  • 78 new cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, with 1,077 total active cases (25 fewer cases);
  • 44 new cases in Island Health, with 539 total active cases (two fewer cases than yesterday);
  • no new cases of people who reside outside of Canada, with seven total active cases (same number as yesterday).

Hospitalized cases rose by 16 cases to 215 individuals in hospitals today, and 118 of those patients are in intensive care units (two more than yesterday).

Sadly, three new deaths (all in Interior Health) were reported. B.C. has recorded an overall total of 1,827 people who have died of COVID-19-related reasons.

With 708 recoveries since yesterday, an overall total of 160,268 people who tested positive have now recovered.

During the pandemic, B.C. has reported a cumulative total of 168,325 COVID-19 cases.

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry
Province of British Columbia

In the provincial immunization program, almost 4 million people who are 12 years and above have received at least one dose of vaccine.

Since December, B.C. has administered 7,509,127 doses of Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca vaccines.

As of today, 84.8 percent (3,929,089) of eligible people 12 and older have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 77.1 percent (3,572,841) received their second dose.

In addition, 85.4 percent (3,694,070) of all eligible adults have received their first dose and 78.1 percent (3,376,103) received their second dose.

(Today, the B.C. Health Ministry did not provide statistics for what percentage of cases are among vaccinated, partially vaccinated, and unvaccinated people.)

None of the five regional health authorities announced any new community or healthcare outbreaks, public health exposures, or business closures.

Today, Fraser Health declared the outbreak over at Peace Arch Hospital in White Rock.

Currently there are 20 active outbreaks in healthcare facilities, including:

  • longterm care: Heritage Village, Northcrest Care Centre, Menno Home (Fraser Health); Arbutus Care Centre, Brock Fahrni (Vancouver Coastal Health); Village at Mill Creek , Cottonwoods Care Centre, Brookhaven Care Centre, Spring Valley Care Centre, Kamloops Seniors Village, Hillside Village (Interior Health); Sunset Lodge (Island Health);
  • acute care: Chilliwack General Hospital (Fraser Health); Fort St. John Hospital (Northern Health);
  • assisted or independent living: Nicola Meadows, Hawthorn Park, David Lloyd Jones, Sun Pointe Village, Hardy View Lodge, Rose Woods Village (Interior Health).

Sobeys listed one staff member who last worked on August 28 at FreshCo located at 10151 No. 3 Road in Richmond has tested positive.

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BC College of Pharmacists investigate reuse of syringes for COVID-19 – BC News – Castanet.net

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The Fraser Health Authority has confirmed that syringes were reused for COVID-19 vaccines at a B.C. pharmacy.

CTV News Vancouver is reporting that Fraser Health confirmed the information on Tuesday via email that – “the plastic tube which holds the vaccine solution, not the needles” – were reused.

Fraser Health did not indicate where in the region the pharmacy is located in. The Fraser Health Authority stretches from Burnaby to Boston Bar.

Fraser Health indicated the pharmacy was part of a provincial pilot program that was testing the ability of pharmacies to use a specific booking system. The location was suspended from the program once it the issue came to light.

Fraser health indicates the B.C. College of Pharmacists is investigating the but they confirmed the pharmacy is no longer giving out vaccines.

-with files from CTV News Vancouver

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COVID-19 vaccine boosters recommended for long-term care residents, national advisory committee says – CBC.ca

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Canadian seniors living in long-term care homes and other congregate-care settings should get COVID-19 vaccine booster shots, Canada’s vaccine advisory body recommends.   

Residents of such sites, including retirement homes and assisted-living facilities “are at increased risk for COVID-19 infection because of their daily interactions with other residents and staff,” said the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) in updated guidance released online on Tuesday. 

“They are also at increased risk for severe disease because of their age and underlying medical conditions.”

The amount of time that has passed since residents received their initial vaccinations is a factor in the recommendation —  given that older adults may “have a less durable response to vaccines and/or past infection compared to younger adults.” 

“Older Canadians residing in congregate living settings were prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccine when the vaccines were first authorized; therefore, many completed their COVID-19 vaccination series early in the vaccine roll-out, leaving more time for waning should it occur,” NACI said. 

Many long-term care residents had their initial COVID-19 shots spaced out over shorter intervals based on the manufacturers’ guidance — 21 days between doses for Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) and 28 days for Moderna (Spikevax).

Current evidence now suggests that longer intervals between doses result in higher immune responses, NACI said, and therefore the original schedule may have contributed to “more rapid waning of protection, including against variants of concern.”

In its guidance, NACI noted that its booster shot recommendation for residents of long-term care homes is not the same as recommending a third dose as part of the initial vaccination schedule. 

“The intent of a booster dose is to restore protection that may have waned over time in individuals who responded adequately to a primary vaccine series,” the advisory committee said. 

That’s different than the recommendation NACI issued just over two weeks ago for moderately to severely immunocompromised Canadians. People who are immunocompromised should receive three doses of COVID-19 vaccine as part of the standard immunization schedule, NACI said, because they may not mount an adequate immune response to two doses in the first place.

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North Bay–Parry Sound's COVID-19 vaccination rates rank near bottom-third in Ontario – BayToday.ca

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The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit is trailing the majority of the 33 other districts in Ontario when it comes to vaccination rates but officials are confident the mobile vaccination clinics held on a retrofitted transit bus can boost those numbers toward the 90 per cent goal.

According to COVaxON, the province’s vaccination reporting system, 78 per cent of eligible North Bay–Parry Sound residents age 12 and older have had two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. That’s tied for 23rd out of 34 health units in Ontario.

The Health Unit also reports 84 per cent of eligible residents 12 and older in the district have received at least one dose, tied for 25th of 34 health units.

The recent introduction of the proof of vaccination program for Ontarians to gain entry to non-essential settings such as restaurants, fitness clubs, and cinemas is acknowledged by health officials as a means to encourage those who are not fully vaccinated to do so.

There was an uptick in vaccinations in the weeks following the announcement of the vaccine certificate program in Ontario. And, a boost in vaccinations followed locally, as well, in mid-September, as the Health Unit reported an increase, particularly among those aged 29 and younger. The Health Unit reported then a 128 per cent increase in first doses week over week. 

See also: Chirico impressed with new wave of vaccinations but still more work to do

The goal locally and province-wide is to have 90 per cent of the population vaccinated with first and second doses. As of Monday, that leaves 6,646 first and 14,680 second shots required. The Health Unit’s dashboard reports 692 doses administered over the weekend. It should be noted hundreds of third doses have been administered to eligible segments of the population over the past two weeks.

In North Bay–Parry Sound, the 30-39, 18-29 and 12-17 age groups all sit at less than two-thirds fully vaccinated, although the 12-17 category was not eligible for the vaccine for months following the initial local roll-out.

The Health Unit reports since June 1, 10 per cent of local positive cases have been detected in fully vaccinated people. Ontario reports 86 per cent of COVID-19 patients in ICUs are unvaccinated, while 72 per cent in hospitals (but not the ICU) are unvaccinated.

The Health Unit has consistently advocated for more people to roll up their sleeves and has gone to great lengths to achieve that goal by providing clinics in long-term care and retirement communities, mass immunization opportunities at Memorial Gardens, clinics focused on members of the vulnerable population, and now the mobile vaccination clinics that visit many of the underserved towns in the district.

See: How better conversations can help reduce vaccine hesitancy for COVID-19 and other shots

Andrea McLellan, Director of COVID-19 Immunization Strategy, previously spoke about possible reasons for vaccine hesitancy.

“It may be a lack of confidence in immunizations overall, it may be a personal choice they are making at this time and waiting to receive further information,” she said, noting there are excellent resources out there for those who are hesitant. “We are providing as much information to the public as we can — our website holds a wealth of information, the Ontario.ca website has a lot of information about the vaccine, as does Public Health Ontario.”

“Some people need a familiar health care provider to really reassure them that the vaccine is right for them,” Dr. Carol Zimbalatti added, encouraging people to reach out to their trusted health care providers for guidance. “Definitely, primary care offices have the information available to counsel their patients.”

The Health Unit will continue to roll out the vaccine through mobile clinics. McLellan says some of the feedback from the public indicated people who weren’t thinking of getting their shot did so thanks to the convenience of the bus set-up.

“We believe the mobile bus has been exceptionally successful,” McLellan said last week. “We’ve done over 300 at a couple of clinics, 150-plus at other clinics, 50 to 60 in smaller communities. The bus has been helpful in getting our numbers up. A lot of people are getting their first doses. And, we’ve accommodated a lot of people eligible for their third doses.”

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