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COVID vaccination rates stall out in northern B.C. – Victoria News

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Vaccinations against COVID-19 have all but stalled out, show weekly statistics released by Northern Health covering 40 areas within northern B.C.

Just four of those 40 locations showed an increase in people over the age of 12 getting their first dose for the week ending Dec. 14, a trend that has been growing since late fall.

And in each of those four locations, all in the northeast where vaccination rates are among the lowest in the north and with northern rates below those elsewhere in the province, the increase was just one per cent.

There are scatterings of second dose increases, a natural follow on from those who have received first doses, and the weekly releases are now starting to show third dose numbers.

In B.C., 88.7 per cent of people aged 12 and up have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine, compared to 78 per cent in Northern Heath as of Dec. 16.

Northern Health’s chief medical officer for the northwest, Dr. Raina Fumerton, says it’s hard to pin down the reasons why vaccinations have ground to a halt in the north or even why the northern rate, as an average of the population, lags behind the rest of the province.

“It’s been a challenge,” said Fumerton last week. “We have gotten to a much better place than where we were just a couple of months ago.”

Proof of vaccination requirements for restaurants, bars, recreation and entertainment have nudged initially-resistant people to get their does as have federal vaccination requirements to get on an airplane.

“And we’ve worked hard to remove as many barriers to access as we can,” said Fumerton.

“But we know there is a certain percentage [of the population] that won’t get vaccinated.”

“We still run across people who are hesitant and we’re doing everything we can, bending over backwards,” Fumerton added.

Misinformation spread widely over social media channels is not helping and health officials spend time correcting what people are reading or watching.

Health officials will also spend time explaining the nature of each vaccine option, all but tailoring what will be offered to the vaccine hesitant.

Specific to the north, Fumerton said there could very well be an anti-government attitude at work, something rooted in the desire to be independent of authority.

“Some people just don’t like being told what to do,” she said.

But she’s at a loss to explain why rates within northern urban areas are higher than northern rural areas.

In what’s called the ‘Smithers Town Centre’, the second dose rate is 82 per cent, 10 percentage points higher than ‘Smithers Rural’, a circumstance repeated in Burns Lake when compared to both north and south of the village.

‘Terrace City Centre’ comes in at 85 per cent having a second dose but in ‘Terrace Rural’, the rate is 79 per cent.

Second dose rates in the northeast are generally lower than elsewhere in the north — 63 per cent in Chetwynd, 56 per cent in north of Peace River and 73 per cent in Dawson Creek.

“It’s just difficult to know,” said Fumerton of the disparity between elsewhere in the north. “It’s difficult to know what we don’t know. We could try surveys but I doubt that the people who don’t what vaccines would be the people who would fill them out.”

Some anti-vaccination groupings can be traced back to religious groups who have a mistrust of public health in any event, Fumerton continued.

“These people do look to faith leaders for advice,” she said.

Still, Fumerton said the COVID-19 vaccination rate among those eligible has outpaced other public health vaccination campaigns.

“Definitely higher, it’s been pretty spectacular,” she said.

This is the last week for vaccination clinics within the north with most clinics in most areas opening again the first week of January.

COVID vaccination rates aside, Fumerton did urge that people take advantage of flu shots, noting that they are free and available at pharmacies as well as public health units.

READ MORE: Early data indicating Omicron is milder, better at evading vaccines

COVID-19Northern Health

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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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