As Health Canada reviews Pfizer-BioNTech’s application to approve its COVID-19 vaccine for kids aged five to 11, Canadian parents are divided on whether they would vaccinate their eligible children if they could.
CTVNews.ca asked parents whether they were planning on vaccinating their children in the event the vaccine is approved for use, and also invited readers to submit any questions they had about the COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11.
Dr. Jesse Papenburg, a pediatric and infectious disease specialist and medical microbiologist at the Montreal Children’s Hospital and McGill University Health Centre, and Dr. Shazeen Suleman, a pediatrician at Unity Health and an assistant professor at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto, answered some of the most frequently asked questions.
Here are their responses, which have been condensed for length:
CONCERN#1: POTENTIAL SIDE EFFECTS
Dr. Papenburg: What we know so far is really limited to what information Pfizer has highlighted in the press release: that it appears the vaccine is immunogenic – in other words it elicits the same amount of antibody response as the vaccinated recipients who are adolescents or adults. And it appears to be safe, or in fact, the side effect profile might be even better than for adolescents or adults.
The study includes a follow-up of over two months that was requested by the FDA. In vaccinology, what we know is that the vast majority of side effects occur within the first week. There are some somewhat delayed side effects that can occur, usually within six weeks, two months max.
These first results which the FDA and Health Canada are going to be basing their decision on include follow-up for two months. Really, that is certainly a standard, reasonable amount of time for any expected side effect that would be associated with a vaccine.
The FDA also asked for an additional follow-up of up to six months within this study, looking specifically at safety, which is ongoing.
The other thing about this vaccine (for children 5-11) is that it’s 1/3 of the adult or adolescent dose. It’s not uncommon to have a pediatric formulation of exactly the same active ingredient or active vaccine product that is in a smaller dose compared to the shot for adolescents and adults. The same thing is true in Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, as well as in other vaccines.
The reason for that is we know that younger childrens’ immune systems can provide a more robust response to a stimulus, such as an antigen in a vaccine. Therefore we can “get away with a smaller dose” and yet have the same type of levels of protection as you need in higher doses for adults and adolescents.
This is potentially beneficial, because when you have a smaller dose then you’re also likely dealing with less side effects, especially the side effects that tend to occur within a few days after the shot is administered.
Dr. Suleman: I first want to validate that a parent always wants what’s best for their child and I know how scary COVID has been for families. I would encourage every single family that does have a concern to talk to their child’s healthcare provider. They will be able to help you make a decision that’s best for you. Every parent is coming from a place of love and concern, and we want to help families make decisions they’re comfortable with.
CONCERN #2: THE TRIAL WAS RUSHED
Dr. Suleman: It’s important to remember that anything that is going to be approved by Health Canada is going through the same process that any other medication or vaccine has gone through. They are not cutting any corners, with respect to reviewing the evidence.
For COVID, it was a larger global collaboration that allowed for work to be done quickly. We can see the power of collaboration, when we actually work across countries, we share data with one another, how quickly things can happen when we do that. In the past, that has not always happened.
Dr. Papenburg: The amount of scientific and public health scrutiny that the COVID-19 vaccines have been under is unprecedented.
From a scientific perspective (mRNA vaccines) are still a young and emerging tool, but in other ways not really, at all. I don’t think anybody in the lay public knew about them before COVID, but Moderna had already been working on mRNA vaccines for a decade before the pandemic. The mRNA technology is something that has been studied in humans for two decades.
CONCERN #3: THE RISK OF COVID FOR KIDS IS SMALLER THAN THE RISK OF THE VACCINE
Dr. Suleman: With newer variants of concern, physicians are seeing more cases of children with COVID. Some of those cases are asymptomatic and some of those cases are mild. But some of those cases are children who do get severely ill. Even if it’s only one or two cases, you don’t know if it will be your child.
There is also the multi-system inflammatory reaction to COVID called MIS-C, and some children have died from that. We also know vaccination against COVID reduces the spread in the community for people who are at risk for severe COVID (the elderly, people who are immuno-compromised and people who can’t get vaccinated).
Vaccination also helps stop the spread of other variants of concern from emerging, and we don’t know if there will be a variant of concern that does affect children. I would ask that families also consider this when thinking about their individual risk-benefit and their community risk-benefit.
CONCERN #4: SHOULDN’T CHILDREN BUILD A NATURAL IMMUNITY TO COVID?
Dr. Suleman: I remember a time when we used to think about chicken pox that way. Although most children who got chicken pox via natural immunity were fine, there were some children who died and there were some children who got severely ill. There were also other immuno-compromised individuals who got extremely ill when exposed to a child with chicken pox.
Now we have a vaccine (for chicken pox) and we can keep more people safe, and that doesn’t have to happen. Again, I would ask people to look at their communities, and think about how our health is all connected.
CONCERN #5: MY PARTNER AND I DISAGREE ON WHETHER TO VACCINATE OUR CHILD/CHILDREN
Dr. Suleman: I want to recognize that this is a difficult situation. I want to reiterate that both parents are coming from a place of concern. Recognizing that can help open up conversations to understand where each parent is coming from.
My guidance would be for families to think about their child’s healthcare provider as someone who can help answer questions and be involved in these discussions. I would encourage being open and receptive to hearing different perspectives, and remember that everyone is coming from a place of love. Parents care about their child, and if someone is concerned, that is love manifesting as concern, so how can we help understand and help unpack that?
PARENTS VIEWS DIVIDED ON VACCINATION FOR KIDS
When CTVNews.ca put the call out to parents, we received hundreds of emails and comments. Here is a roundup of the responses, highlighting some of the most common questions and concerns:
SEEKING PROTECTION, RESUMPTION OF REGULAR LIFE
The main reasons people said they plan to vaccinate their kids when possible include protecting their children against COVID-19 and hoping to resume regular life and activities.
“It has been unnerving sending my five year old to kindergarten this year relying on inadequate public health measures to keep him safe,” wrote Tamara Mendez in an email to CTVNews.ca.
Lauren Crane, in southern Ontario, shared similar views in an email. “I have been trying so hard to (keep) both of my asthmatic kids safe from COVID and I feel that after they are vaccinated I will finally be able to breathe a sigh of relief,” the email said.
“For our family, this feels like the final step to feeling ‘safe’ again around people. We also have high-risk friends and family and want to do everything to protect everyone around us.”
Nandini Raj, from Calgary, said she hopes that the vaccine might help her 10-year-old daughter, who she said contracted the Delta variant of COVID-19 at summer camp. Nandini said her daughter still has “fluctuating chest pains,” despite recovering from her other COVID symptoms.
“She has always been active, cheerful and with high spirits,” she wrote in an email. “Her life took a detour in which we cannot predict which direction she goes each day. I am very hopeful that the vaccine will help her.”
Other respondents said they had faith in the scientific review process and noted that they have vaccinated their kids against other illnesses including measles, mumps, rubella and polio.
“My child is afraid of vaccines and my wife and I approach this subject through compassion and understanding,” scientist Bruce Doran wrote in an email from Sudbury, Ont.
“We remind her that the vaccine will protect her from COVID-19, will protect her grandfather, her family her friends and she will be able to do her after-school activities.”
FEAR OF SIDE EFFECTS, QUESTIONS ABOUT COVID-19 RISK IN KIDS
Some of the primary reasons people said they aren’t planning on vaccinating their children include a fear of side effects, and a belief that the risk of COVID-19 in children is smaller than the risk of giving them the vaccine.
“While both my husband and I chose to be vaccinated, when it comes to our children, we have concerns and we need more information,” Pam Andreasen, from Calgary, wrote in an email. “With the extremely low risk that COVID-19 continues to pose to children, we do not feel that vaccinating our children is necessary.”
Liz Levac, from Puslinch, Ont., said she is “extremely” concerned about the possible side effects of vaccinating her kids, in particular her 15-year-old son who has a heart condition.
“We don’t know the long-term effects and new information keeps coming out,” she wrote. “I will not be getting this vaccine for my children and I think it’s completely wrong mandating it for children. They are not flooding our hospitals and have young healthy bodies to fight this virus. Leave our kids alone!”
Jennifer Small, from Toronto, had similar feelings. “Hard no to vaccinate 5-11 year olds,” she wrote. “The risk is minimal for kids in relation to COVID. Why would I inject them with a vaccine that we still don’t know the long-term effects of?”
Shawna Chicilo wrote: “What is wrong with Canada? In children who do not fall ill from COVID anyways, the risk to benefit equation of the vaccine does not add up to me as their mom. “The entire concept of natural immunity is being ignored.”
Many readers pointed to the recent change in Ontario vaccination guidelines for people between the ages of 18-24. Now, Ontario is prioritizing the Pfizer vaccine for this age group, due to an observed increase of the rare heart condition myocarditis associated with the Moderna shot.
Many said they did not feel comfortable with the 2,268-participant sample size of the Pfizer vaccine trial for children 5-11, or the speed at which the trial was conducted. Many also said they felt there isn’t enough data on the long-term effects of the vaccine.
“I do not plan on vaccinating my children,” wrote Amy Steuernol in an email. “To be honest, I simply don’t trust the government or the pharma companies at this point.”
Derek Woodford, from Sudbury, Ont., wrote in an email: “There is no way I would even consider vaccinating my child with the COVID-19 vaccine. We have no information on long-term effects of the vaccine and will not for at least a decade.”
(NOTE: At the time of writing, Health Canada was reviewing the application from Pfizer-BioNTech for its vaccine for children aged five to 11 and a decision had not yet been made.)
Ontario man who accidentally transferred $19000 to stranger's account left for weeks without solution – CTV Toronto
An Ontario man says he has been fighting to get back $19,000 for months after making a “simple mistake” while trying to transfer money between two of his bank accounts.
Milton, Ont. man Roberto Guardado said he had just purchased a new home and in September was trying to transfer money from his Bank of Montreal (BMO) account to his CIBC account so that he could make the down payment.
He said he called BMO to arrange the wire transfer, figuring it would be the easiest way to move the funds to CIBC.
Guardado said he has two bank accounts with CIBC, one for his personal savings and one for business. He was trying to transfer the money into the savings account.
He said while making the transfer, he correctly read out his CIBC savings account number, but mistakenly gave the transit number of his CIBC business account.
The five-digit transit number helps the bank identify which branch the money is being sent to.
The mistake resulted in Guardado’s money being sent to a stranger’s CIBC account, he said.
“I noticed the money went out but it didn’t go into my CIBC account,” Guardado told CTV News Toronto. “So I went home that day and I started looking on my computer and then I realized I gave the wrong transit number.”
He said he immediately called BMO, who told him they would launch an investigation.
Despite calling the bank every few days for an update, he said it took five weeks before he got any answers.
Guardado said he was told that his $19,000 was deposited into someone else’s account and the person had withdrawn it.
He said both BMO and CIBC told him nothing further could be done to retrieve his money.
“I couldn’t believe I made the mistake,” Guardado said.
Guardado said he called the police, but was also told that because he initiated the transfer there was nothing to investigate.
“The police told me that because it’s not considered fraud they can’t do anything about it,” he said.
‘JUST A SIMPLE MISTAKE’
Guardado said that while he fully admits the error was his fault, he doesn’t understand why the bank couldn’t help him quickly reverse the transfer.
“It was just a simple mistake and my money ended in someone else’s account,” Guardado said.
Because of the lost money, Guardado said he had no choice but to back out of the sale of his new home.
Shortly after CTV News Toronto contacted CIBC and BMO about Guardado’s situation, he said he received a call from the banks telling him his $19,000 would be returned to his account.
CIBC spokesperson Trish Tervit confirmed on Saturday they had resolved the issue with Guardado.
“It’s important that when transferring funds between financial institutions that the sender ensures the recipient account number is correct as misdirected funds may be difficult to recover,” Tervit added.
Guardado said CIBC told him this is a “unique situation” that is being resolved on a one-time basis.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson from BMO said they had a “good conversation” with Guardado, but couldn’t comment further for privacy reasons.
While this stressful two-month chapter is now over for Guardado, he said banks “have to come up with a better system” for when people make mistakes.
“It was a stupid mistake on my part, but the process to fix it has to be easier,” he said. “I was so stressed that I lost weight and I couldn’t sleep. It was bothering me so much.”
Cargill beef-processing plant in High River, Alta. narrowly avoids strike action – CBC.ca
Employees at Cargill’s beef-processing plant in High River, Alta., have voted in favour of a new labour contract, narrowly avoiding strike action and a possible lockout.
United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401 (UFCW), which represents workers at the plant, said Saturday that workers chose to accept the new contract offer, with 71 per cent voting in favour.
In a statement, UFCW said it was not an easy decision for staff at the plant, and called the contract vote a “bittersweet victory.”
Workers had raised safety concerns after a COVID-19 outbreak at the plant in 2020 affected more than 900 people. The outbreak, which forced Cargill to temporarily close the plant — one of Canada’s largest — is linked to three deaths.
The union says the new contract includes procedures to ensure worker health and safety, benefits, and new rights for sick employees.
After the two sides held talks on Tuesday, UFCW’s bargaining committee agreed to recommend the new offer to its members, Cargill spokesperson Daniel Sullivan said. Workers voted between Thursday and Saturday.
The union released parts of the proposed offer to CBC earlier in the week. The contract included $4,200 in retroactive pay for many Cargill union members; signing, holiday and COVID-19 bonuses; and a $5 wage increase.
UFCW had said the plant’s roughly 2,000 workers would strike Monday unless an agreement was reached.
The union also they brought in tents, floodlights and heaters for the possible strike, while nearby fields were levelled to provide parking.
Cargill had also planned to lock out all UFCW union staff as of 12:01 a.m. Monday, according to a statement from the company’s vice-president of labour relations, Tanya Teeter, which was obtained and made public by the union.
“We are pleased to have reached an agreement that is comprehensive, fair, and reflective of their commitment to excellence at Cargill and the critical role they play in feeding families across Canada,” Jarrod Gillig, the company’s president of business operations and supply chain for North America protein, wrote in a statement to CBC Saturday.
“As an organization that leads with our value to put people first, we truly believe this ratification is in the best interests of our employees and we are eager to move forward to build a stronger future – together.”
Reforms still needed: Union
“We also look forward to the citizens of Alberta joining with us in calling for reforms and restructuring in the meatpacking industry,” UFCW President Thomas Hesse wrote in a statement Saturday.
“Workers have been ripped off. Ranchers have been ripped off. And we’ve all been ripped off at the supermarket counter. Government failed to protect these workers, as well as failing to protect Alberta ranchers and consumers. Change must occur.”
The Cargill plant processes up to 4,500 head of cattle per day, accounting for about one-third of Canada’s beef.
Job growth in Canada exceeded expectations in November – Canada Immigration News
With employment soaring beyond predictions and unemployment dropping to near pre-pandemic levels, new labour force data suggest that Canada is on its way to a full economic recovery.
This past November, Canadian employers added 154,000 jobs to the economy. Last month’s growth exceeded analysts’ predictions of 38,000, which was closer to October levels. The gains pushed employment a full percentage point higher than pre-pandemic levels. Also, unemployment dropped to 6%, which is within 0.3 percentage points of what it was in February 2020.
Data from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey reflect labour market conditions during the week of November 7 to 13. Proof-of-vaccination policies and other public health measures were largely similar to those in October.
Labour shortages persist despite employment gains
Hiring in November was driven by the private sector both in full-time and part-time positions. Even so, Canada is still experiencing labour shortages across sectors like hospitality, retail, and health care. In September, there were roughly one million job vacancies across the country.
Most government COVID-19 financial assistance measures ended in late October. Some analysts say it may have pushed people to accept job offers. Among these measures was the Canadian Recovery Benefit for individuals, which had been accused of discouraging people from returning to work. The Conference Board of Canada says the lack of wage growth was an even greater disincentive, especially in low-wage service industries.
“November’s job growth suggests the withdrawal of the [Canadian Recovery Benefit] may have pushed some workers back into employment though alone this will not be sufficient to address the significant labour shortages affecting several industries,” writes economist Liam Daly.
RBC economist Nathan Janzen wrote that despite the surge in employment there were still “exceptionally low” levels of workers in the service sectors.
“Employment in accommodation & food services edged up 5k from October but is still more than 200k below pre-shock levels,” Janzen wrote. “Travel and hospitality spending has been rebounding, but with the unemployment rate now substantially lower, it is increasingly clear that there are not enough remaining unemployed workers out there to re-fill all of those jobs any time soon.”
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