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Edmonton field hospital could open by mid-January if needed, AHS says – CBC.ca

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Alberta Health Services says it anticipates a field hospital at the University of Alberta’s Butterdome could open to COVID-19 patients by mid-January, if needed, as preparations get underway. 

With the help of the Canadian Red Cross, the transformation of the athletic complex into a temporary field hospital is expected to begin next week and wrap up during the first week of January, AHS spokesperson Kerry Williamson said in an email Monday.

The 100-bed facility would add to Edmonton’s hospital capacity, above current plans to extend capacity for COVID-19 patients to 2,250 beds and 425 intensive care spaces, he said. 

“These care spaces will be kept in reserve, for use as needed,” Williamson said. 

The beds could be used for patients recovering from COVID-19 who are deemed to be at low risk of transmitting the virus, Williamson said, but noted other patients could also be treated at the centre. 

Alberta’s chief medical officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw said last week the field hospital, dubbed an alternate care centre, is a precautionary measure. 

But as the province recorded a record number of hospitalizations on Monday, Hinshaw warned that if Alberta does not bend the curve, “we may need to use those extra spaces.” 

“If we can continue to work together to bend the curve, as we have been … then perhaps we may not need those beds at all. But of course, it’s also prudent that they’re there in backup just in case they’re needed, but it really is up to all of us,” she said Monday, as daily new case totals continued a recent downward trend. 

On Monday, hospitals in the Edmonton health zone were treating 456 people with COVID-19, over half of the provincial total of 795. In the Edmonton area, 87 people were admitted to intensive care units. 

As COVID-19 demands stretch capacity at the city’s hospitals, Hinshaw announced this month that up to 60 per cent of non-urgent surgeries would be postponed to ensure space for critically ill patients. 

AHS did not immediately respond on Monday afternoon to questions about plans to staff the field hospital. A spokesperson for Health Minister Tyler Shandro directed questions to AHS. 

The latest update comes after CBC News reported earlier this month that the Alberta government had drafted internal plans to establish two or more Alberta field hospitals, should brick-and-mortar hospitals become overwhelmed.

‘Show Albertans what the plan is’ 

The NDP acting opposition health critic MLA Heather Sweet denounced what she called the government’s opaque plans for the Butterdome field hospital. 

“We still don’t know what this government knows around what our infection rates are going to look like past Christmas, so we would like to see this government show Albertans what the plan is,” she said. 

“I think the fact that the Red Cross is being asked to set up these field hospitals in a matter of weeks … speaks to an urgency that this government is aware of.” 

A Red Cross volunteer adjusts an opening in a tent at a mobile hospital at the Jacques Lemaire arena in the Montreal suburb of LaSalle in April. The charity is now working with the Alberta government to prepare a temporary hospital at a university athletic complex in Edmonton (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

In Calgary, a temporary building constructed in the summer at Peter Lougheed hospital is being used as an extension of the emergency department. 

The Butterdome was previously used as a COVID-19 assessment centre in the spring. 

“The plan is part of our ongoing, proactive pandemic response planning and is one of several initiatives that will ensure our healthcare system can meet increased demand caused by COVID-19,” Williamson said. 

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B.C. slated to give more details on COVID-19 vaccine program – WellandTribune.ca

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VICTORIA – British Columbia is updating its immunization strategy for COVID-19 today as Premier John Horgan is scheduled to be joined by health officials to lay out the latest on the government’s plan.

Nearly 31,000 doses of vaccine that the province expected to arrive by Jan. 29 could be curtailed due to production delays in the supply from Pfizer-BioNTech.

Two doses of the vaccine are needed to ensure immunity from the virus that causes COVID-19 and Health Minister Adrian Dix said earlier this week that B.C. was set to begin administering second doses.

He said the province remains committed to ensuring all those who have had the first shot get a second dose within 35 days.

On Thursday, the province said it had administered 104,901 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, of which 1,680 were second doses

Horgan is being joined in making today’s announcement by Dix, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Dr. Penny Ballem, who is leading the COVID-19 immunization rollout.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021.

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B.C. slated to give more details on COVID-19 vaccine program – StCatharinesStandard.ca

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VICTORIA – British Columbia is updating its immunization strategy for COVID-19 today as Premier John Horgan is scheduled to be joined by health officials to lay out the latest on the government’s plan.

Nearly 31,000 doses of vaccine that the province expected to arrive by Jan. 29 could be curtailed due to production delays in the supply from Pfizer-BioNTech.

Two doses of the vaccine are needed to ensure immunity from the virus that causes COVID-19 and Health Minister Adrian Dix said earlier this week that B.C. was set to begin administering second doses.

He said the province remains committed to ensuring all those who have had the first shot get a second dose within 35 days.

On Thursday, the province said it had administered 104,901 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, of which 1,680 were second doses

Horgan is being joined in making today’s announcement by Dix, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Dr. Penny Ballem, who is leading the COVID-19 immunization rollout.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021.

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Pfizer Vaccine Safe for Elderly Despite Norway Scare, WHO Says – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — The World Health Organization said it sees no evidence that Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s Covid-19 vaccine contributed to the deaths of elderly people and urged that the shot still be used.

Reports of deaths “are in line with the expected, all-cause mortality rates and causes of death in the sub-population of frail, elderly individuals, and the available information does not confirm a contributory role for the vaccine in the reported fatal events,” the WHO Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety said in a statement on Friday. The risk-benefit balance of the vaccine “remains favorable in the elderly.”

The panel met on Tuesday to review reports that some very sick older people had died after getting the vaccine. Initial cases reported last week in Norway had raised alarm, with authorities saying it was possible that vaccine side-effects could aggravate underlying illnesses even as they expected some nursing-home residents to die shortly after being vaccinated due to their frail underlying health.

Norway moved to calm that anxiety on Monday, with the Norwegian Medicines Agency saying that Covid-19 is more dangerous to most patients than vaccination.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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