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Flu season has arrived, but more people are vaccinated – Regina Leader-Post

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Flu season is kicking into high gear in Saskatchewan, but already 330,000 people have gotten their flu shot.


Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab speaks to the media about the province’s publicly-funded immunization programs and the importance of children being immunized as they head back to school.


Don Healy / Regina Leader-Post

With a record number of vaccines in hand this year and flu season ramping up, Saskatchewan has seen a boost in how many people are getting their flu shot.

Dr. Saqib Shahab, the province’s chief medical health officer, said 436,000 doses were ordered this year — up from 368,000 doses in 2018 — and already 330,000 of those vaccines have been used.

“That’s 15 per cent more than last year, so the flu vaccine uptake has been great,” said Shahab.

He attributed the higher uptake to last year’s early flu season sparking more interest and the increased ease of access people now have to the vaccine, with more than 350 pharmacies across the province offering it.

“Access has really improved over the last two, three years and that may be one factor, but also I think there’s more awareness that the flu vaccine is good for you and it’s good to protect others around you,” he said.

There were concerns in October about how shipping delays of the vaccine across Canada would impact Saskatchewan residents, but Shahab said the vaccines arrived “just in time” so that no clinics had to be rescheduled.

Flu season is now getting into full swing, with 183 lab-confirmed cases in the province since Sept. 1. Shahab said this is a normal amount of cases for this time of year and that the virus will likely peak over the next two or three weeks before winding down in mid-February. There have been no deaths and only one intensive care unit admission from the flu so far.

There have also been five flu outbreaks in long-term care facilities, which Shahab said is another indicator that flu season is picking up. A typical flu season sees between 60 and 80 outbreaks in long-term care facilities.

This year, the dominant strand is the H3N2 strain, whereas last year the dominant strand was H1N1. While it is too early to judge how effective the vaccine is this year, Shahab said vaccines typically don’t work quite as good against this year’s strain.

“Generally vaccines work better against the H1N1 strain and they are less effective against the H3N2 strain, especially if you’re older than 65 or (have) underlying risk factors, but having said that, they still have some effect in preventing serious illness or hospitalization,” he said.

Shahab reminded people to stay home from school or work if they have flu symptoms to prevent the sickness from spreading. Symptoms include a fever, aches and pains, a sore throat and being tired.

lgiesbrecht@postmedia.com

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COVID-19: Ontario reports 119 new cases, 7 in Ottawa; Premier Ford set to make announcement at Ottawa hospital – Ottawa Citizen

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Ontario’s vaccination rollout has now reached 80.4 per cent of eligible (12-plus) residents with one dose, and 66.7 per cent have received both vaccine doses.

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Ontario is reporting 119 new laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases and three related deaths Monday.

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The province has now seen 549,447 total cases since the beginning of the pandemic and 9,316 people have died.

There are currently 96 patients in Ontario hospitals, with an additional 131 in intensive care units, and of those, 79 require a ventilator. (Ontario Public Health statistics of ICU hospitalizations and ventilator cases contain some patients who no longer test positive for COVID-19 but who are being treated for conditions caused by the virus. As such, occasionally, the number of patients in ICUs or that require a ventilator may exceed the number of patients in hospitals with COVID-19.)

Another 137 cases were resolved in the past 24 hours and of Ontario’s total case count, 538,702 are now considered resolved.

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There were 11,930 tests conducted in the province Sunday with a 1.0 per cent positivity rate.

There were 22 cases identified in Toronto, 15 in Hamilton, 14 in Waterloo, and 13 in Peel region.

Officials in Ontario are also continuing to track the spread of variants of concern in the province.

There were 19 new confirmed cases of the Alpha variant, and there have now been 145,405 confirmed cases of that strain in Ontario.

Three new cases of the Delta variant were confirmed Monday, and there have now been 3,916 total cases of that variant in Ontario.

No new cases of the Beta or Gamma variant were identified in the province, according to Monday’s data.

Ontario’s vaccination rollout has now reached 80.4 per cent of eligible (12-plus) residents with one dose, and 66.7 per cent of residents have received both vaccine doses.

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Another 65,920 vaccine doses were administered across the province on Sunday. As of 8 p.m. Sunday, 19,018,393 doses had been administered and 8,625,932 Ontarians had been fully immunized with both doses, according to the latest provincial data.

COVID-19 in Ottawa

Ottawa Public Health is reporting seven new cases in the city and no new deaths.

There have now been 27,782 total cases in Ottawa and of those, 27,147 are resolved. There have been 593 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the city.

There are now 42 active cases in Ottawa, two fewer than Sunday, and there remains one patient in hospital, with none in ICU.

There have been 40 total cases of the Delta variant in Ottawa, according to provincial data.

There have also been 1,416,743 total vaccine doses administered in Ottawa.

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According to OPH, 768,001 eligible residents (age 12-plus) have received one dose, and 638,520 are full vaccinated.

That represents 83 per cent of the eligible population with one dose and 69 per cent of the eligible population with both doses.

There was one new local case reported Sunday, and Ottawa has seen 27,775 total cases and 593 deaths, according to Sunday’s data.

Only one other case was identified Monday in the East region of the province, with one confirmed case in the Hatings region.

No new cases were identified in the Eastern Ontario public health unit, Kingston, Renfrew County or in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark.

Premier Doug Ford is in Ottawa Monday to make an announcement at the Ottawa Hospital’s General campus, where will be joined by Ottawa West-Nepean MPP Jeremy Roberts, Mayor Jim Watson, and Ottawa Hospital president and CEO Cameron Love.

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The announcement is set for 1:15 p.m.

COVID-19 in Quebec

There have been 298 new cases in Quebec since the last provincial update on Friday, including 223 new cases over the weekend and 75 new cases confirmed Monday.

There have been 376,828 total cases in Quebec and 11,240 deaths. One new death was reported in Monday’s data.

Of those total cases, 364,774 people have recovered in Quebec and those cases are now considered resolved.

There are 67 patients in hospital in Quebec, which remains stable for the previous day’s figures, and there are 20 people in intensive care. That is one fewer than recent days.

Another 55,188 vaccine doses have been administered in the province, including 54,106 doses in the past 24 hours.

There have been 12,228,529 total vaccine doses administered in the province.

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Trying to control your waistline? Add whole grains to your diet – The Globe and Mail

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Repeated studies have linked higher whole grain intakes to protection against heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and obesity.

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If you don’t eat whole grain foods on a daily basis, consider rethinking your menu.

According to researchers from Tufts University in Boston, doing so can help you manage your waist size, blood sugar (glucose) and blood pressure as you age. And it doesn’t take a lot. The sweet spot, it seems, is three whole grain servings each day.

Repeated studies have linked higher whole grain intakes to protection against heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and obesity.

The latest findings, published earlier this month in the Journal of Nutrition, suggest that whole grains guard against chronic disease by reducing increases in risk factors that occur over time.

What are whole grains?

All grains – such as wheat, rye, barley, spelt, oats – start out as whole grain kernels made up of three layers: The outer bran layer, which contains nearly all the fibre; the inner germ layer, which is rich in nutrients, antioxidants and healthy fats; and the starchy endosperm.

Eating whole grains and 100-per-cent whole grain foods means that you’re getting all parts of the grain kernel.

When whole grains are processed into refined flour, the bran and germ layers are removed, resulting in a loss of most of the fibre, one-quarter of the grain’s protein and a substantial amount of at least 17 nutrients.

About the new study

The researchers compared how whole grain and refined grain intake affected changes in five risk factors for heart disease and stroke: waist circumference, fasting blood glucose, blood pressure, blood triglycerides (fats) and HDL (“good”) blood cholesterol.

They did so by assessing the diets and health of 3,121 middle-aged and older adults, every four years, over a span of 18 years. Participants were, on average, 55 years old at the start of data collection.

People who ate at least three daily servings of whole grains (versus one-half or less) experienced smaller increases in waist circumference. Over each four-year period, waist circumference increased one inch among those who ate few whole grains compared to one-half inch among those who ate more whole grains. The protective effect of whole grains on waist size was strongest in women.

Whole grain eaters also had smaller increases in fasting blood glucose and blood pressure over time.

With respect to refined grains (such as white bread, white pasta and white rice), the results revealed that people who ate four or more servings per day (versus fewer than two) experienced greater increases in waist circumference and smaller declines in blood triglycerides over the study period.

Benefits of whole grains

Eating fibre-rich whole grains can help you feel satiated and prevent overeating. The soluble fibre in whole grains can also help prevent spikes in blood sugar and insulin after eating. This may, in turn, favour fat-burning rather than fat storage.

Whole grains are also good sources of magnesium and potassium, minerals used to regulate blood sugar and blood pressure. And many whole grains contain prebiotic carbohydrates, which fuel beneficial gut microbes.

How to increase your whole-grain intake

One serving of whole grain is equivalent to one slice of 100-per-cent whole grain bread or one-half cup of cooked whole grain pasta or cooked whole grain (including oats, brown rice, farro, millet and hulled barley).

Read labels on packages of whole grain breads, crackers and breakfast cereals. If you don’t see “100-per-cent whole grain” listed, scan the ingredient list to make sure the product doesn’t contain refined grains (for example, wheat flour).

When buying rye bread look for ingredients that indicate whole grain such as whole rye flour, rye meal, rye kernels and rye flakes.

Don’t be fooled by claims of added fibre. Wonder White + Fibre bread, for example, isn’t a whole grain bread. Nor is Catelli’s Smart Pasta. Both are refined grain products with added oat hull fibre (and inulin in the pasta).

If you avoid wheat, rye and barley because they contain gluten, include gluten-free whole grains in your daily diet such as brown rice, quinoa, millet, teff, sorghum, buckwheat, amaranth and gluten-free oats.

Batch cook whole grains so that you have them ready to add to meals. Toss cooked quinoa, bulgur or farro into green salads; add barley, red rice or spelt berries to soups, stews and chilis; or make whole grain bowls with freekeh or brown rice.

Leslie Beck, a Toronto-based private practice dietitian, is director of food and nutrition at Medcan. Follow her on Twitter @LeslieBeckRD

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Jordan to vaccinate children aged 12 years and older against COVID-19 – The Daily Star

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