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Dr. Bonnie Henry comments on vaccine passports for non-essential services in B.C. – Vancouver Is Awesome

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Will you need to show proof of vaccination for non-essential services in B.C. this fall? 

Health Minister Adrian Dix stopped short of saying that the province will implement a vaccine passport system for non-essential services and events in the future. But he added that unvaccinated individuals will not have access to some services and events, regardless.

“It is not mandatory for a citizen to be vaccinated in B.C. but there are things that you may not be able to do if you’re not vaccinated,” underscored the health minister Thursday (Aug. 12).

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry added that people must have the ability to make the decision about their personal health. She noted that some people are unable to be immunized due to their health, too. 

With that in mind, B.C.’s long-term care and assisted-living workers will be required to be fully vaccinated by October.  Henry said the new order was being issued due to concerns about the higher level of severe illness and death for residents of such facilities if they do in fact contract COVID-19.

Health officials will also continue to look at other high-risk settings, particularly ones in health care, she added.

Vaccine passports for non-essential services in B.C. 

In workplaces, sporting events, concerts, and faith services, people may be required to show proof of vaccination. 

B.C.’s top doctor emphasized that “it is going to have an impact on your ability to do some of those things that you may want to do…attending a sports game is a good example.”

Businesses will need to make their own decisions in conjunction with their lawyer labour advisors. She said employers are “absolutely” within their rights to require employees to be vaccinated: “That is a business decision.”

Faith leaders should encourage “only immunized people” to attend services, added Henry.

“Those are decisions that faith leaders, communities, church groups, choirs, make for themselves; they don’t need an order from me to do that.”

Canada creating COVID-19 vaccine passport for international travel

The Government of Canada has announced it’s working with the provinces and territories to develop a COVID-19 vaccine passport for international travel. 

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said Wednesday (Aug. 11) that the document should be ready by the “early fall” and will be digital with a paper option.

Mendicino said it will include data on the type of vaccines received, the dates and the location they were given.

Find out more about Canada’s new vaccine passport program for travel.

With files from Tyler Orton

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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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