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'Hands up, I'm ready': Ottawa primary care providers to receive AstraZeneca doses for their patients – Ottawa Citizen

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On Thursday, a City of Ottawa official said more information, including locations, would be available shortly.

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More than 11,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine are slated to arrive in Ottawa next week, destined for the hands of health-care providers and the arms of patients at select community health centres and family health teams.

The news, shared Thursday by the City of Ottawa’s Emergency and Protective Services general manager, Anthony Di Monte, has Ottawa’s Dr. Elizabeth Muggah “absolutely delighted” and comes on the heels of a primary care pilot program she says helped get vaccines to patients facing barriers or hesitancy around getting shots.

Muggah is president of the Ontario College of Family Physicians, which has advocated for its members to have more involvement in vaccination efforts in the province.

“We definitely have been hearing from family doctors across the province who are saying, ‘You know … hands up, I’m ready,’” she said.

On Thursday, Ontario announced the province-wide expansion of an initiative offering COVID-19 vaccination through primary care providers. Previously, Muggah said, AstraZeneca doses went to select practices in six public health unit regions. The practices were identified by their local public health units and, in turn, reached out to patients in their practices and brought them in for vaccination based on provincial guidance regarding vaccine prioritization.

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“It was great,” Muggah said. “I would say, from the family doctor point of view, there was tremendous satisfaction with being able to provide vaccines to patients. From the patient point of view, there was huge appreciation of being able to have the option to get the vaccine … with the health care providers who they know and they trust in a setting that they know and they trust.”

Muggah, a family doctor with the Bruyère Family Health Team, said theirs is among the sites selected to receive a portion of next week’s AstraZeneca shipment to Ottawa. She said she didn’t yet know how many doses they would be receiving, nor what the other selected sites were or how Ottawa Public Health decided which practices would be involved.

This newspaper reached out to OPH for information about the local primary care vaccination rollout, but was told a response would not be possible by Friday.

On Thursday, Di Monte said more information, including locations, would be available shortly. Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Vera Etches, said at the time that she believed they would take the same approach as has been done with pharmacies, where AstraZeneca doses are available to people aged 55 and older, but she needed to confirm details.

What they saw with the pilots, and what Muggah expects will happen in Ottawa, is that family doctors took a variety of approaches to offering vaccination. Some set up drive-thrus, some offered weekend or evening clinics, and others integrated it into regular office hours. And, with many family doctors already doing home visits, there’s opportunity to vaccinate through that avenue as well.

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Muggah said she hoped the province-wide rollout produced the same conclusions the initial primary care program did in Hamilton, Toronto, Guelph, Peterborough, Simcoe-Muskoka, and Peel — “Family doctors absolutely can do this, and specifically we can move the dial on patients who are hesitant and vulnerable” — and grow from there.

“Because I think that every family doctor who wants to be able to offer this to their patients in office should have that opportunity.”

By the numbers

Ontario

(as of Friday afternoon)

6,098: New confirmed cases (3,009 on Friday, 3,089 on Thursday)

39: Deaths over the previous 48 hours.

358,558: Total cases

7,428: Total deaths

2,042: Total B.1.1.7 (UK) variant cases confirmed

70: Total B.1.351 (South African) variant cases confirmed

102: Total P.1 (Brazilian) variant cases confirmed

796: New hospital (two days)

451: In ICU

261: On ventilator

121,400: Tests administered (Thursday and Friday)

2,424,063: doses of the vaccine administered

2,192,253: Total doses administered

315,820: People fully vaccinated

52,532: Tests conducted in previous 24 hours

12,551,173: Total tests conducted

Ottawa

(as of Friday at 3 p.m.)

240: New confirmed cases

17,825: Total cases

1: New death

467: Total deaths

44: In hospital

14: In ICU

104.3: Seven-day COVID incidence rate, per 100,000 population

6.5: Per cent positivity rate

1.16: Seven-day R(t) number

26: Total B.1.1.7 (UK) variant cases confirmed

6: Total B.1.351 (South African) variant cases confirmed

0: Total P.1 (Brazilian) variant cases confirmed

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Australians living with disability have been 'abandoned' in vaccine rollout: Butler – Sky News Australia

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Shadow Health Minister Mark Butler has highlighted “shocking evidence” which came to light at the Senate Inquiry into COVID on Tuesday which indicates the majority of vulnerable Australians are not fully vaccinated.

“You’ll remember that phase 1a, the vaccination of our most vulnerable members of the community, aged care residents, disability facility residents and their staff were supposed to be completed by Easter, that is what Scott Morrison promised,” he said.

Mr Butler said the evidence showed two-thirds of aged care residents still have not been fully vaccinated and “shockingly” more than 99 per cent of residents in disability facilities have not been fully vaccinated.

“Australians living with disability have been abandoned by Scott Morrison in this vaccine rollout.”

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Specified front-line workers in Manitoba a little more at ease after prioritization for COVID-19 vaccine – CBC.ca

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Foodfare employee Jackie Sandul is looking forward to some peace of mind as Manitoba’s COVID-19 immunization strategy is slated to expand Friday.

On Wednesday, Manitoba officials released new details for expanding vaccination eligibility to adults living in certain geographic areas with high rates of COVID-19 spread or more severe outcomes.

Certain front-line workers, including grocery store workers like Sandul, will be part of the prioritization.

“It makes me safer. My employees and everybody in general around this area,” said Sandul, who is a cashier, supervisor and stockperson at the Foodfare on Portage Avenue in Winnipeg.

“Germs are passed by touch. If you’re touching someone’s money, what do we do? Touching their cards, touching their groceries. When you’re scanning it through the till, you don’t know what they’ve touched or where they’ve been.”

Sandul, a 45-year-old with diabetes, is already eligible for the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine. But knowing she’ll be prioritized through the province’s immunization plan adds a level of comfort because she won’t have to worry much longer about picking up the novel coronavirus at work, she said.

Geographic areas are deemed hot spots based on previous COVID-19 transmission rates, population density and socio-economics such as race, average income and housing, said Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead for Manitoba’s vaccine task force. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

Manitoba’s vaccine task force has been reviewing public health data from the second wave and so far into Wave 3 to determine which parts of the province have seen high levels of coronavirus transmission and where residents have had more severe outcomes after contracting COVID-19.

They have also been reviewing which professions put people at greatest risk of picking up SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Front-line workers serving hot spot communities at a school, food processing facility, food establishment such as a restaurant and grocery or convenience store will be prioritized.

People working as child-care or daycare providers, food or public health inspectors, or workplace safety and health officers will be prioritized too.

United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 832 has been pushing for such a shift for grocery store employees for a while now, said president Jeff Traeger.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to these people that have been doing this work, because we all have to eat and we all have to shop to get our food. They’ve gone to work each and every day throughout the pandemic to make sure that our community keeps running,” he said.

“If there’s any way that we can reduce the risk, like putting them higher on the vaccine priority list, we should be doing that.”

Traeger would have liked to have seen security guards, who often work in places like grocery stores, be added to the priority list too.

The upcoming changes to vaccine eligibility will be a huge boost for morale for school staff, said Chris Goring, principal of Isaac Brock School, a nursery to Grade 9 school in Winnipeg’s West End.

“It’s going to validate the hard work that staff have been doing in the school, not just teachers — educational assistants, custodians, administrators, clerical staff,” said Goring.

“It’s going to be peace of mind for them when they go home to their families.… It’s going to help us carry through the remainder of the school year and keep our schools safe.” 

A teacher with students at Isaac Brock School, where principal Chris Goring hopes the upcoming changes to the vaccine may also soon lead to a bit of normalcy for students. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

Shaun Jeffrey, CEO of the Manitoba Restaurant and Foodservices Association, appreciated public health officials recognized restaurant employees were at greater risk, he said.

The problem was Jeffrey learned about the changes the same time the general public did.

“Our industry looks to us for guidance and for feedback and education on what’s happening in Manitoba. We need to be brought up to speed on what the province’s plans are so that we can distribute that and communicate that in an effective manner,” he said.

People booking appointments will be asked for proof of employment, such as a workplace ID or letters from employers. In some cases, they may be asked to simply say they work in an eligible industry. They will be asked for proof of employment on the day of the vaccine appointment as well.

More essential workers may be added to the priority list as more vaccine doses become available, said Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of Manitoba’s vaccine task force, during a Wednesday news conference.

The list of hot spots should be released Friday. Geographic areas are deemed hot spots based on previous COVID-19 transmission rates, population density and socio-economics such as race, average income and housing, said Reimer.

The people CBC News spoke with for this story agreed it makes sense to prioritize people working in communities hardest hit by COVID-19.

But Traeger believes all grocery store workers ought to be prioritized because of the amount of contact those employees have with the public, he said.

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Expert says Saskatchewan should consider more targeted vaccine plan as variants surge – moosejawtoday.com

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SASKATOON — Nazeem Muhajarine says he feels a sense of relief after receiving his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine last week at a centre in Saskatoon.

“It was just so well-organized and run. I felt completely safe,” Muhajarine said in an interview.

The professor of community health and epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan said the province is making great strides quickly getting shots into arms, but he’s concerned some people are being left behind.

Premier Scott Moe touted during question period Wednesday that Saskatchewan is leading the country when it comes to administering first vaccinations. 

“Our way through this pandemic, everyone’s plan to get through this pandemic, is to get everyone vaccinated as quickly as possible,” Moe said. 

More than 365,000 doses of vaccine have been given in Saskatchewan. Health officials say 52 per cent of residents over the age of 40 have received their first shot. 

It puts Saskatchewan — with a population of just under 1.18 million — ahead of other provinces when it comes to doses delivered per capita. Data from a COVID-19 vaccination tracker, run by University of Saskatchewan students using federal and provincial data, suggests the province in outpacing Ontario and Quebec.

Moe credits his Saskatchewan Party’s “robust vaccination plan,” which he says will be augmented in the coming days. Eligibility for all vaccines is being lowered to 44 on Thursday, except for in the north where it will go down to 40. It’s expected to drop to 40 for the general population by Wednesday.

Muhajarine said there’s much to applaud about the vaccine rollout. The choice, initially, to use age-based eligibility meant it was easy to understand and targeted those who were more likely to experience severe outcomes if infected, he said. 

Drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinics have also been successful, said Muhajarine. One providing mass immunizations in Regina as the capital has became a hot spot for variants has expecially worked well.

Muhajarine said his own experience shows that organization at larger mass vaccination sites is also commendable. 

However, the professor said now that vulnerable senior populations are immunized and there are highly contagious new strains, the province may be missing the mark.

Getting the most vaccinations out fastest is just part of a good public health response, he said, but surging infections and hospitalizations mean the response should now be targeted to those most affected.

“Workplace spreads and outbreaks have been quite prevalent,” Muhajarine said. “That’s been a huge contributor in Regina and has been a contributor in Saskatoon as well.”

There were 231 new cases in Saskatchewan on Wednesday and four more deaths, including a person in their 30s another in their 40s. The others were over 70. There were 185 people in hospital and 49 in intensive care.

Provincial public health orders were tightened recently as officials warned the more transmissible variant strains were becoming dominant. 

Muhajarine said the recent deaths of influential Cree teacher Victor Thunderchild, 55, in Prince Albert and well-known chef Warren Montgomery, 42, in Regina are examples of people in high-risk work environments who weren’t able to get vaccinations under the age-eligibility plan. 

He said Saskatchewan should consider following Ontario and Manitoba, which are pivoting vaccination plans to target neighbourhoods where people have a higher risk of contracting the virus. 

It should also consider socio-economic factors, including how many residents are in a household and the type of jobs people have, he added.

One example would be neighbourhoods with multi-generational households and where many people work service jobs facing the public. Congregate living facilities such as shelters and correctional centres would be another, he said.

Muhajarine said teachers and other essential workers should also get priority.

Every region in the country is seeing benefits to targeting areas and occupations where the pandemic’s third wave has taken hold, he suggested

“That is not something to be trivialized in this kind of complex and mass undertaking.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 21, 2021. 

— By Kelly Geraldine Malone in Winnipeg

The Canadian Press

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