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COVID-19 in B.C.: Province seeks to protect hospitals from protests; almost 775 new cases; 40 flights; and more – The Georgia Straight

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The new case count remained at a high level today.

Although active cases continue to rise in number, active cases decreased in Interior and Vancouver Coastal Health, and remained level in Island Health.

When B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix held a news teleconference today (September 9) to address a range of health issues in the province, including surgeries and wait lists, he answered several questions about COVID-19.

When B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix was asked about potential upcoming protests planned to be held at hospitals, Dix said that the province is considering all options to address concerns.

While Dix acknowledged that “there is an absolute right of dissent in our country—you’re allowed to express your view”, he said that there are places to demonstrate other than public hospitals.

Of particular concern about recent protests held at hospitals after the B.C. Vaccine Card announcement, he denounced (as examples) those yelling at healthcare workers and interfering with cancer and heart patients, grieving families, and people needing to access emergency rooms.  

“We’re looking at all of the steps that need to be taken to ensure healthcare workers are safe and to ensure patients are safe,” Dix said.

Today, the B.C. Health Ministry is reporting 774 new COVID-19 cases (including three epi-linked cases).

Active cases resumed rising in number again today—with 44 more cases than yesterday, there are now 5,594 active cases.

Hospitalized cases remained around the same level as yesterday. With one more case today than yesterday, there are now 262 individuals are in hospital, and 130 of those patients are in intensive care units (ICU), which is one more person than yesterday.

Dix stated that of the ICU cases, there are 111 of those patients are unvaccinated (85 percent), 10 are partially vaccinated (eight percent), and nine are fully vaccinated (seven percent). He added that none of the patients in ICU who are under 50 years of age are fully vaccinated.

He said that the unvaccinated ICU patients include:

  • seven people in their 20s;
  • 13 people in their 30s;
  • 12 people in their 40s;
  • 32 people in their 50s;
  • 25 people in their 60s.

The new and active cases include:

  • 253 new cases in Interior Health, with 1,747 total active cases (46 fewer cases than yesterday);
  • 233 new cases in Fraser Health, with 1,669 total active cases (68 more cases than yesterday);
  • 123 new cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, with 926 total active cases (13 fewer cases);
  • 98 new cases in Northern Health, with 752 total active cases (31 more cases);
  • 65 new cases in Island Health, with 487 total active cases (two more cases);
  • two new cases of people who reside outside of Canada, with 13 total active cases (two more cases).

Tragically, there are five new deaths, including three people in Fraser Health, one person in Northern Health, and one person in Island Health. The overall total number of fatalities is now at 1,847 people who have died of COVID-19-related reasons.

With 677 recoveries since yesterday, an overall total of 164,470 people who tested positive have now recovered.

During the pandemic, B.C. has reported a cumulative total of 172,338 COVID-19 cases.

Since December, B.C. has administered 7,570,924 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca vaccines.

As of today, 85.3 percent (3,955,624) of eligible people 12 and older have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 77.8 percent (3,608,067) received their second dose.

In addition, 85.9 percent (3,716,975) of all eligible adults in B.C. have received their first dose and 78.8 percent (3,406,522) have received their second dose.

The B.C. Health Ministry stated that, after factoring for age, people who are unvaccinated are 34 times more likely to be hospitalized than those fully vaccinated.

From September 1 to 7, people who aren’t fully vaccinated made up 78.6 percent of COVID-19 cases, and from August 25 to September 7, they represented 86.3 percent of hospitalizations.

Out of a total of 4,694 cases from September 1 to 7, there were:

  • 3,296 unvaccinated people (70.2 percent);
  • 393 partially vaccinated people (8.4 percent);
  • 1,005 fully vaccinated people (21.4 percent).

Out of a total of 344 hospitalized cases from August 25 to September 7, there were:

  • 277 unvaccinated people (80.5 percent);
  • 20 partially vaccinated people (5.8 percent);
  • 47 fully vaccinated people (13.7 percent).

From September 1 to 7, for cases per 100,000 population after adjusting for age, there were:

  • 301.4 unvaccinated people;
  • 84.8 partially vaccinated people;
  • 26 fully vaccinated people.

From August 25 to September 7, for cases hospitalized per 100,000 population after adjusting for age, there were:

  • 37.1 unvaccinated people;
  • 6.8 partially vaccinated people;
  • 1.1 fully vaccinated people.
B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry
Province of British Columbia

None of the five regional health authorities have declared any new healthcare or community outbreaks, and haven’t listed any business closures or public exposure events.

Northern Health provided an update on the outbreak at the inpatient unit at Fort St. John Hospital, which was declared on August 28. As of today, a total of seven people have tested positive (four patients and three staff members). Two patients have recovered but, sadly, one patient has died.   

Currently, there are 22 active outbreaks in healthcare facilities, including:

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

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has added the following 40 flights to its lists of potential public exposures:

  • August 23: WestJet 302, Vancouver to Regina;
  • August 25: WestJet 118, Vancouver to Calgary;
  • August 26: WestJet 100, Vancouver to Calgary;
  • August 26: WestJet 3260, Victoria to Kelowna;
  • August 27: Air Canada/Jazz 8548, Vancouver to Winnipeg;
  • August 28: Air France Flight 74, Paris to Vancouver;
  • August 29: Air Canada/Jazz 8066, Victoria to Vancouver;
  • August 29: Air Canada/Jazz 8572, Vancouver to Regina;
  • August 29: Alaska Airlines 2206, Seattle to Vancouver;
  • August 29: Lufthansa 492, Frankfurt to Vancouver;
  • August 29: WestJet 3293, Calgary to Kelowna;
  • August 30: Flair 711, Vancouver to Prince George;
  • August 30: WestJet 3026, Nanaimo to Vancouver;
  • August 30: WestJet 3125, Edmonton to Kelowna;
  • August 30: WestJet 3181, Edmonton to Kelowna;
  • August 30: WestJet 3330, Vancouver to Kelowna;
  • August 31: Air Canada 997, Mexico City to Vancouver;
  • August 31: Air Canada/Jazz 8061, Vancouver to Victoria;
  • August 31: Air Canada/Jazz 8200, Prince George to Vancouver;
  • August 31: Harbour Air 1129, Vancouver to Nanaimo;
  • August 31: KLM 681, Amsterdam to Vancouver;
  • August 31: WestJet 135, Calgary to Vancouver;
  • September 1: Air Canada 184, Vancouver to Toronto;
  • September 1: Air Canada 553, Los Angeles to Vancouver;
  • September 1: Harbour Air 1130, Nanaimo to Vancouver;
  • September 1: Lufthansa 492, Frankfurt to Vancouver;
  • September 1: WestJet 712, Vancouver to Toronto;
  • September 1: WestJet 3057, Vancouver to Nanaimo;
  • September 1: WestJet 3309, Kelowna to Vancouver;
  • September 2: Air Canada 563, San Francisco to Vancouver;
  • September 2: Lufthansa 492, Frankfurt to Vancouver;
  • September 2: Philippine Airlines 116, Manila to Vancouver;
  • September 2: Swoop 109, Hamilton to Abbotsford;
  • September 2: Turkish Airlines 75, Istanbul to Vancouver;
  • September 2: Air Canada 861, London to Vancouver;
  • September 3: WestJet 127, Calgary to Vancouver;
  • September 4: WestJet 723, Toronto to Vancouver;
  • September 5: Air Canada 129, Toronto to Vancouver;
  • September 5: Lufthansa 492, Frankfurt to Vancouver;
  • September 6: American Airlines 1415, Dallas to Vancouver.

Sobeys listed two Safeway locations which had staff member who tested positive:

  • at 11200–11216 8th Street in Dawson Creek, where one employee who tested positive last worked on September 2;
  • at 700–15355 24th Avenue in Surrey, where an employee who tested positive last worked on September 6.

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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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