The province’s chief public health officer says he is confident vaccines are doing their job stopping serious illness even as COVID-19 cases rise.
Dr. Brent Roussin said at a Wednesday press conference that the rising cases, hospitalizations and deaths are concerning, but he is seeing signs vaccines are helping to blunt severe illness in the midst of the fourth wave of the pandemic.
Along with Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead for the province’s vaccine implementation task force, Roussin praised those Manitobans who have done their part to get a vaccine and follow safety guidelines to break transmission of the virus.
Cases are averaging 150 to 200 a week and hospitalizations are rising, but Roussin said he expects case numbers to increase for a while as test positivity rates and case counts fluctuate.
“The system is under strain right now, but the evidence we are seeing makes it clear vaccines are working,” Roussin said. “Vaccinated people are much less likely to develop COVID, therefore much less likely to pass that on.”
There are many studies that show those who are vaccinated and do develop symptoms are infectious for a much shorter duration and therefore less likely to pass it on to others, he said.
Meanwhile, more than 23,310 first-dose pediatric vaccine appointments have been booked as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Reimer. Those are just through the provincial vaccine booking system; many more are booking through their doctor or pharmacist. There are an estimated 125,000 children in the newly eligible group of five- to 11-year-olds in Manitoba.
“It’s been an exciting week for the province,” she said. “This underscores what we knew, that Manitoba parents want to get this vaccine for their children.”
Reimer reiterated children are much less likely to develop severe illnesses if infected, but cases among the five- to 11-year-old group are growing fast and the risk is very high they will become severely ill. So far, 27 kids have ended up in hospital, seven in intensive care and one has died.
The vaccine gives them the protection they will need to prevent illness in themselves and everyone around them. It is also recommended children do not get any other vaccine two weeks before or after their COVID-19 shot. Reimer said this is to track if there are any side-effects from the COVID vaccine.
Health officials are also urging the public to get their flu vaccines. Anyone six months or older who is eligible for the shot is encouraged to get it as soon as possible. As of Tuesday, about 17 per cent of Manitobans received their flu vaccine and cases are low, but Roussin implored everyone to get theirs to prevent further strain on the health system.
Health officials also clarified proof of vaccine for sports and businesses. Youth aged 12 to 17 participating in sports must show proof that they have at least one dose of the vaccine to participate with a printout of a proof of immunization record. For all other areas that require proof of vaccine, they will need an immunization card.
For businesses and venues, all Manitobans must show a QR code from the province, or a pan-Canadian vaccine credential to enter that establishment once it becomes more widely implemented. There are guidelines for acceptable forms for people from other provinces on the province’s website.
Moving forward, the province will change how it reports some data. After Friday, it will no longer report variants of concern. Roussin cited with the delta variant accounting for about 98 per cent of cases, they don’t see a benefit to keep publicly reporting on them. Public health will still screen and sequence samples to monitor for changes, and if a new variant shows signs of becoming a threat, it will be reported.
As well, the province will not report details on flights, trains or buses where there may have been a potential COVID exposure. This change reflects every person 12 years or older needing proof of double vaccination to travel domestically on those means of transportation. The provincial government will still collect the data to monitor but won’t publish it for public viewing unless it is deemed necessary. This doesn’t change the way the province manages close contacts and high-risk exposure.
They will still report data to international authorities on COVID exposures for international travel and Canadians re-entering the country. Exposures on cruise ships will still be reported to the Public Health Agency of Canada and posted on their website.
First children's vaccination clinic in Chatham fully booked – BlackburnNews.com
First children’s vaccination clinic in Chatham fully booked
Lucy Gillette, age 10, Chatham
November 28, 2021 6:00am
Hundreds of Band-Aids were plastered onto the little arms of kids in Chatham-Kent who rolled up their sleeves for their first COVID-19 vaccine.
Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit (CKPHU) says 550 doses were administered to children aged five to 11 on Saturday for the first day of the municipality’s pediatric vaccination campaign.
“Things went really well and there has been a lot of excitement,” said Jeff Moco with Chatham-Kent Public Health Communications. “People seem to be excited to start this next phase of the vaccination campaign.”
Appointments for Pfizer-BioNTech’s pediatric vaccine at the Bradley Centre in Chatham opened on Tuesday, November 23.
The clinic has been transformed into a youth-friendly vaccination clinic with a “Super-Kid” theme that includes bright colours, balloons, and costumes.
“It has a different vibe, we have the balloons and the superhero theme,” said Moco. “It’s a lot of fun and lighthearted.”
The vaccination clinic at the Bradley Centre will run Tuesday to Saturday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Moco said another clinic has been added this Monday, which has a lot of spaces still available.
There are also three vaccine clinics planned at schools beginning next month.
The school clinics will be at Blenheim District Secondary School on December 6, 2021, Wallaceburg District Secondary School on December 13, and Tilbury District Secondary School on December 20.
All school clinics run from 3 p.m. until 8 p.m. and everyone is welcome to get the shot at those clinics.
“I don’t think any kid likes getting a vaccination but what we have been hearing is that they see other people in their lives get vaccinated and feel left out,” said Moco. “Some of them have been interested in doing their part and it’s kind of neat seeing that mindset in young people.”
Kids COVID vaccine campaign ramps up in the capital amid concerns over new variant – CTV Edmonton
Ottawa’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign for children ramped up on Saturday as thousands of kids between 5 and 11-years-old rolled up their sleeves for their first shot.
All seven of Ottawa’s community vaccination clinics are now offering paediatric doses this weekend.
The push to immunize as many as possible has been amplified by concerns over a new variant emerging from southern Africa.
Ottawa’s clinics were running full speed Saturday; there were lineups outside some sites.
“A lot of relief that we’re finally able to get the shots in the kiddos and excited about the next one,” said Toufic Zayoun, after their kids received the first shot.
More than 1,400 doses were administered Friday to kids between 5 and 11 in the capital. As of Friday afternoon, Ottawa Public Health said nearly 5,000 appointments had been booked for the first weekend.
This comes though as concerns of a new COVID variant emerge. The Omicron variant, first detected in southern Africa, appears to be more transmissible.
“I think it’s too early to panic,” said Dr. Kwadwo Kyeremanteng, an Ottawa critical care physician.
“We haven’t had any solid data to show it could evade the vaccine, it’s hard to gauge how it would respond in our setting where we have extremely good vaccination rates.”
For now, Dr. Kyeremanteng is pushing for continued caution and encourages immunization.
“To me the message that’s loud and clear right now is we need to think about global vaccinations very seriously,” he said.
The new variant of concern is already on the minds of parents too.
“Any new variant that comes up is always concerning and it’s just nice to have that extra layer of protection for the kids now too,” said Christie Cowan, after her two kids got their first shot Saturday.
She’s hopeful increased immunization will mean a more normal heart ahead for kids in the capital.
“If this means schools stay open, especially after Christmas, this means everything to them,” said Cowan.
Good morning, Greater Sudbury! Here are a few stories to start your day – Sudbury.com
Good morning, Greater Sudbury! Here are a few stories to start your day on this Saturday morning.
Rising case counts see Public Health Sudbury reinstate work-from-home rule as of Monday
Saying local COVID-19 case rates remain “unacceptably high,” Public Health Sudbury & Districts is reinstating work-from-home requirements as of Monday. Continued high COVID-19 case rates mean that the Public Health Sudbury & Districts area is among the top three most affected jurisdictions in Ontario, said a press release issued Friday. Local protective measures, including a reinstatement of capacity limits first issued on Nov. 8, have suppressed rapid growth in cases; however, case rates remain unacceptably high, threatening health and the health system, in-person learning, and local transition to a “reopened” community, said the health unit. PHSD said it is announcing “a measured and responsible approach to the current situation.” The medical officer of health is reinstating work-from-home requirements, revoked by the province on July 15, issuing strong recommendations for COVID-19 protections to area schools, businesses, and organizations, and enacting stricter measures for the follow up of contacts of cases of COVID-19. “We have carefully reviewed recent data and consulted with the province’s chief medical officer of health,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Medical Officer of Health with Public Health Sudbury & Districts. “Although school-based cases and household spread are currently driving our continued high case counts, cases continue to be reported among young adults, social settings, and workplaces. It is hard to find a setting that is not impacted. “With the widespread circulation of the virus in our community, our response also needs to be widespread, reducing mobility and face-to-face interactions overall. This is the purpose of the work-from-home Instructions. Further, every sector needs to do their part, voluntarily at this time, to pave the path to lower case rates and re-opening.” You can read the full Letter of Instruction here.
Variant prompts ban on travellers from southern Africa
Canada has banned visitors from southern Africa after the discovery of a new variant of concern in the region. The new variant, deemed Omicron, first emerged in South Africa and coincided with a steep rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in that region in recent weeks, according to the World Health Organization. The ban will apply to foreign nationals who transited through a list of seven countries in the last 14 days, including South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Namibia and eSwatini. Global Affairs is also issuing an advisory to discourage non-essential travel to South Africa and neighbouring countries. “We know very little about this variant right now,” Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said at a briefing Friday. The mutations that have been detected show the potential for greater transmissibility, she said, and she won’t be surprised to see cases crop up in Canada. “This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning,” the WHO wrote in a statement Friday. “Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other (variants of concern.)”
Sudbury leads Ontario in opioid death rates, but Ford’s more interested in a GTA road, Bigger says
When it comes to Greater Sudbury’s homelessness and opioid crises, neither Premier Doug Ford nor Health Minister Christine Elliott are picking up the phone. This, Mayor Brian Bigger said, has him feeling “ghosted.” “He refuses to talk and his ministers refuse to respond or provide funding that we need in our community,” he said. “This is really a sad state when there is no response.” Earlier this week, Bigger penned an open letter to the premier in which he requests the province’s support and affirms that he’s available to discuss matters at any time. “This is about the City of Greater Sudbury having the highest per-capita (opioid) death rate in the province … and not even getting the courtesy of a callback from the minister of health,” he told Sudbury.com. It’s not as though there isn’t any money available, Bigger said, noting that the province managed to find $6 billion to spend on Highway 413 in the Greater Toronto Area. “That’s just not acceptable,” he said, adding that the city has been pushing for the province’s help for the past two years.
Sudbury names new economic development lead
Sudbury has a new economic development lead. Meredith Armstrong, who has had a long tenure with the city, moved into the role of director of economic development, effective Nov. 19. She replaces Brett Williamson, who has left the position for a new opportunity outside the organization. “With her unique achievements and her well-established relationship with the Greater Sudbury Development Corporation (GSDC) board, Ms. Armstrong embodies all the qualities needed to continue to support the work of the GSDC board in her new role as director,” said Lisa Demmer, GSDC board chair, in a Nov. 25 news release. “I want to thank Mr. Williamson for his efforts and dedication as we worked together to position Greater Sudbury for ongoing economic recovery and success amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. I wish him all the best in the future.”
Salvation Army Christmas Kettles now in place around Sudbury
Salvation Army volunteers are back beside their kettles, and this year offering a chance to “tap” your donation to keep everyone safe. The kettles are in place across Sudbury and will be until December 10, and this year feature $5, $10, and $20 “taps” so that you can use your debit card, credit card or Google/Apple pay features to donate to the Salvation Army. The kettles will also be in place for cash donations at locations across Sudbury. Donations go to the Salvation Army food bank, and to fill out their annual Christmas Hampers. This year, they have 600 families signed up to receive a hamper filled with the makings of a Christmas dinner, including a turkey, as well as toys for any children. Their fundraising goal this year is $220,000 to cover the community’s needs. All of the money will stay in and be used to help people in Sudbury. They are still in desperate need of volunteers, however. Lyn Mullen of the Salvation Army told Sudbury.com that each year, there are 1,000 volunteer shifts to fill. “That’s a two hour shift, five times a day, at six locations until December,” said Mullen. “All the money stays in Sudbury and is used for all our family services, which includes our food bank and our Christmas hampers.” If you would like to volunteer and are double vaccinated, you can contact the Salvation Army at their email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 705-673-5893 ext. 203.
Ontario still in fourth virus wave, likely to continue through winter, top doc says
Ontario’s rising COVID-19 infection curve is a continuation of the fourth wave that started earlier in September, and not the start of a fifth wave, the province’s top doctor said Thursday as he warned that the upward trend would continue. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore said case counts never got back to a low level despite a slight dip before steadily increasing again in late October. “We never declared the fourth wave over, this is simply a continuance,” Moore told reporters. “Sadly, all modelling would predict this would slowly, steadily rise and increase over the coming months, including January and February.” He said higher case counts were anticipated as people moved indoors in the cold weather, and asked people to remain cautious until the weather warms up in the spring and more people become eligible for third vaccine doses to protect against the “formidable foe” of COVID-19. “It just continues to want to spread and it won’t slow down again until we get outdoors in the springtime,” he said. “We do have a time period over the next four months that we’ll have to continue to be very, very vigilant.”
Winter weather will stick around this weekend
Expect a sunny day for your Saturday with winds of 15 km/h and a high of -9. That wind will mean a wind chill of -20 this morning and -12 this afternoon. The UV index today is one, or low. Tonight, expect increasing cloudiness and a low of -11. For Sunday, expect cloudy skies and slightly warmer temperatures. The afternoon temperature is expected to hit -6, with a 60-per-cent chance of flurries. Sunday night, the clouds will stick around and there is a 30-per-cent chance of flurries and a low of -10.
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