Connect with us

Health

Health Minister Adrian Dix must come clean on why B.C. is restricting fourth COVID-19 vaccinations – The Georgia Straight

Published

 on


Former senior civil servant and diplomat Norman Spector shared a fascinating article with me this weekend from the Ottawa Citizen.

A family physician in the national capital, Dr. Nili Kaplan-Myrth, hoped to conduct mass vaccinations for people who want a fourth dose of COVID-19 but don’t qualify under Ontario’s rules.

She reportedly wanted to create a large outdoor “jabalooza” clinic but health officials refused to provide her with vaccines.

Ontario restricts access to fourth shots of COVID-19 vaccines to those who are 60 years of age or older.

Next door in Quebec, people can get fourth shots if they are 18 and older.

“I am receiving lots of individual requests for help,” Kaplan-Myrth tweeted on Sunday (June 26). “I can’t give you the vaccine at this time, but hands up (and DM) if you as plaintiffs want to bring this to court as a group. Would require a litigation team.”

There’s a tremendous amount of scientific data showing that COVID-19 vaccines lessen the severity of COVID-19. They reduce the likelihood of dying or being hospitalized from the disease.

However, COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness wanes over time. This is why Kaplan-Myrth is such a strong advocate for booster shots. She believes that these boosters are particularly important when so many people are not wearing masks indoors.

Keep in mind that COVID-19 initially presents as a respiratory infection.

In some cases, however, it causes serious brain injuries and cardiovascular problems. It’s especially dangerous for the immunocompromised, who are at higher risk of suffering severe COVID-19.

That’s because the virus that causes COVID-19 not only damages blood vessels and triggers blood clots, but also disrupts the immune system. Researchers have even linked immune dysfunction to serious brain injuries, which is explained in the video below.

Video of Here’s what we know about COVID-19’s impact on the brain

Video: Here’s what we know about COVID-19’s impact on the brain.

B.C. doesn’t want most under-70s to get fourth shots

In the face of all of this, B.C. continues adopting a hard line on the distribution of fourth vaccine doses.

This is the case even after Global News B.C. reporter Richard Zussman revealed that 226,000 doses intended for the vaccine-hesitant will expire at the end of July.

In B.C., you have to be 70 years of age or older and have gone six months since a previous COVID-19 vaccination to qualify for a fourth dose.

There are exceptions: Indigenous people, for example, can get a fourth dose if they’re 55 or older.

Below, you can read other exceptions listed by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control for those between the ages of 60 and 69.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control listed these exemptions, which qualify someone from 60 to 69 years old for a fourth COVID-19 vaccination.

However, when the Georgia Straight asked the Ministry of Health about who qualified for a fourth COVID-19 vaccination, it did not include what’s written after the letter “d”: “Caregiver of a frail elderly or moderately to severely immunosuppressed person”.

So it remains unclear in B.C. if a person between 60 and 69 who is a caregiver for either a frail elderly person or a moderately to severely immunosuppressed person is able to receive a fourth COVID-19 vaccination.

Yet it seems pretty clear from the exemptions above that if you are a cancer survivor or have kidney disease or have heart disease or have multiple sclerosis or have had a transplant and you’re under 70 in B.C., you will not qualify for a fourth COVID-19 vaccination under existing rules.

Why is B.C. being more restrictive with COVID-19 booster shots than Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan (where you only need to be 50-plus), as well as the entire United States?

Health Minister Adrian Dix needs to come clean on that.

What possible justification is there for withholding a fourth COVID-19 shot for British Columbians under 70, especially the immune-compromised, when 226,000 vaccine doses are set to expire next month?

Why is Dix so convinced that he knows better than the governments of Ontario, Quebec, and Saskatchewan?

We don’t know the answer.

That’s in part because our pusillanimous B.C. Liberal MLAs refuse to hold the provincial NDP government accountable for its COVID-19 policies.

Some on social media are speculating that the booster shots are being withheld as part of a population-level experiment—conducted without the people’s consent—on the efficacy of delaying second booster shots.

Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, through their actions, are giving oxygen to this hypothesis.

Who knows? There might even be a scientific justification for withholding booster shots.

But in the absence of evidence provided by the B.C. government, the health minister must get in front of a microphone on Monday (June 27) and provide a coherent explanation.

Failure to do so will only fuel more suspicion about the motives behind the government’s policy.

Perhaps it’s worth noting that in January 2021, Science published a study involving 188 people, which offered a glimmer of hope.

It showed that more than 95 percent of those who had recovered from COVID-19 had immune systems demonstrating “durable” memories of the virus, lasting up to eight months.

This prompted speculation on the National Institutes of Health website that the immune systems of those who are vaccinated would have lasting memories of the virus.

But a study of 188 people is insufficient as the basis for an entire provincewide policy.

Some might wonder if the government isn’t making fourth doses of COVID-19 vaccines available to those under 70 because of the cost of distribution or due to the labour shortage in the health-care sector.

Others might suspect it’s because the B.C. government thinks everyone is going to get COVID-19 anyway, so why bother?

If that’s the real reason, it’s a monumental disservice to those with compromised immunity. This should demand a response from Human Rights Commissioner Kasari Govender that goes well beyond writing a letter to Henry. Like by holding a public inquiry under section 47.15 of the B.C. Human Rights Code.

In the meantime, show us the evidence, Minister Dix, for why so many British Columbians are being denied a fourth COVID-19 vaccination.

And if you’re unwilling to do that, then please step aside so another health minister can do this in your place.

More

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Health

Quebec rejects plea to send army to northern region facing health worker shortage

Published

 on

MONTREAL — Quebec’s Health Department has rejected a request from officials in the northern region of Nunavik to have Armed Forces members brought in to help ease a shortage of health-care workers.

Kathleen Poulin, a spokeswoman for Nunavik Regional Board of Health, said Wednesday that labour shortages in the health sector are hitting Nunavik particularly hard due to the region’s “remoteness and its specific characteristics.”

“In some of the smaller villages that have only two to four nurses, the briefest absence can require a complete reorganization of activities in order to maintain services,” Poulin said in a statement.

“Considering the sizes of the communities, a handful of (additional) health-care workers can make a big difference in the level of services offered to the population.”

The health board, Poulin said, has been asking Quebec in recent weeks to supply medical workers. That included a request that Ottawa send Armed Forces members who can provide health care after some of Nunavik’s 14 Indigenous communities were forced over the summer to limit their services to emergencies only.

Health Minister Christian Dubé told reporters on Wednesday he would “soon” travel to the region to assess the situation, adding that Quebec has a “contingency plan” to handle the crisis.

“We have five or six paramedics already on their way, and doctors from other provinces that offered to help,” Dubé said.

The department, however, opted to seek the Canadian Red Cross’s help in Nunavik rather than the army, Dubé said, as the organization “helped a lot during the pandemic.” The department said the request for Armed Forces support was received Aug. 2.

“It’s a question of who’s the best and most appropriate group to complete our staff,” Dubé said. “The situation is already better than what it was.”

But Charlie Lapointe-Robert, a nurse who works in Inukjuak at the Inuulitsivik Health Centre, said Dubé’s statement is misleading. She said rather than being able to offer proper care to the community, health-care workers are forced to tell residents to “be careful.”

“We’re the ones who are supposed to take care of them,” Lapointe-Robert said in an interview on Wednesday, adding that her health centre still doesn’t know when to expect help from the government.

“We are accumulating delays, blood tests that need to be done, children’s vaccinations, followups, cancer prevention that isn’t done .… The situation is not better than it was. We are heading toward a greater crisis.”

The labour shortage in Nunavik’s health sector is not new — and neither are the requests for government action, Lapointe-Robert said.

The nurse, who’s currently on vacation in Montreal, said she doesn’t understand why it took so long to create a contingency plan as it is now a matter of days before the community could be left with no nurses on duty.

“We are on a tightrope, there is a risk of error and incredible tragedy,” she said, adding that normally up to six nurses are working in Inukjuak.

Poulin said a labour shortage affecting the entire province has left nursing agencies unable to meet the demand.

“Summer means vacation for many. It is necessary for the workers to take some time off, mostly after two years of COVID-19. Again, just a few people more or less make a big difference.”

The union representing nurses in the northern region, the Syndicat nordique des infirmières et infirmiers de la Baie d’Hudson, said it has been warning the government about the situation since last year.

“We are in a G7 country and I believe that the Inuit communities of Hudson Bay have a right to quality health care,” union president Cyril Gabreau said on social media. “Actions could have been taken yesterday to avoid tomorrow’s catastrophe.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Aug. 10, 2022.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

 

Virginie Ann, The Canadian Press

Continue Reading

Health

Montreal public health investigating after man dies from legionnaires’ disease

Published

 on

Montreal public health officials say they are investigating a deadly case of legionnaires’ disease in the city’s east end to see if it is linked to two other cases detected in the area.

The city’s public health department said today that the investigation will target water cooling towers in the area.

The victim was only identified as a man.

Last year, two people died after an outbreak of legionnaires’ disease in an adjacent area.

The public health department says 27 cases of legionnaires’ disease, which is caused by bacteria, have been detected in the city so far this year, and that 52 cases were detected last year.

The disease can cause fever, cough, shortness of breath and aches and pains, and it can be fatal in roughly 10 to 15 per cent of cases.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 10, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

Continue Reading

Health

Quebec public health wants smelter’s arsenic emissions cut to 5 times provincial norm

Published

 on

MONTREAL — Quebec’s public health director is recommending that arsenic levels in the air of a western Quebec city be reduced significantly, but even then they would remain five times higher than the provincial standard.

Dr. Luc Boileau told reporters in Rouyn-Noranda Wednesday that average emissions of 15 nanograms of arsenic per cubic metre of air would be a safe level for people in the city until air quality is “eventually” improved to the provincial standard of three nanograms of arsenic per cubic metre.

“We have to obtain, eventually, the level that is required by the Quebec norms,” he said.

However, in the meantime, he said the 15-nanogram level would allow for “strong protection for the health of unborn babies and young children” and would reduce the risk of lung cancer for the entire population.

The city, more than 600 kilometres northwest of Montreal, is home to the Horne copper smelter, which is currently allowed to emit 100 nanograms of arsenic per cubic metre of air — 33 times the provincial standard. That agreement, which must be renewed every five years, is currently under review by the province.

Boileau said the 15-nanogram cap is his formal recommendation to the provincial government on the smelter’s emissions. He said the new cap should be reached “as soon as possible,” but he did not provide a deadline for when he hopes it will be reached — or when the smelter’s emissions will reach the provincial norm.

The changes required are complex, he said, and “it might take a long time, so maybe a couple of years.”

Quebec Environment Minister Benoit Charette said he will consider Boileau’s recommendations and the emissions cap he plans to place on the smelter will be “much more stringent” than the current level.

“We don’t want to compromise the health of the public, so if public health is talking to us about 15 nanograms, we can’t not consider that advice,” he said.

Glencore, the multinational mining company that owns the smelter, said in a statement after Boileau’s news conference that it was aware of the recommendations.

“We will be unveiling our comprehensive action plan in the coming days, which we hope will address the concerns raised to date, while contributing to the sustainable development of our community,” said Alexis Segal, a spokesman for Glencore Canada.

Studies by Quebec’s public health institute have shown that residents of the city have higher lung cancer rates than people in the rest of the province and predicted that if the concentration of arsenic in the foundry’s emissions isn’t reduced, between one and 14 additional residents will develop lung cancer by 2040.

The new recommendation would result in a fourfold reduction in the risk of lung cancer among people living in the area around the smelter, “a level considered acceptable in similar North American settings,” the institute said Wednesday.

Dr. Frédéric Bonin, a physician who practises in Rouyn-Noranda, said the new recommended level is “a step in the right direction, but it is very insufficient.” He wants the provincial government to apply the three-nanogram standard.

“We have made bad decisions over the last 40 years, the population of Rouyn-Noranda has paid the price and it should not continue to pay the price for bad political decisions,” he said in an interview.

The smelter, which has been in operation since 1927, employs around 650 people.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 10, 2022.

 

Stéphane Blais, The Canadian Press

Continue Reading

Trending