Health unit prepares for expansion of COVID-19 booster shots – Tbnewswatch.com
THUNDER BAY – Health authorities are preparing to ramp up the provision of COVID-19 booster shots, with all Ontario adults expected to be made eligible in the coming months.
Health Canada authorized the use of the Moderna vaccine as a booster shot for those 18 and older on Friday, days after granting similar approval to the Pfizer vaccine.
Third doses had already begun rolling out to those at higher risk of COVID-19, like people over 70, health care workers, those who are immunocompromised, and Indigenous people.
Thunder Bay’s medical officer of health, Dr. Janet DeMille, urged people in those groups to get their booster shots, noting people 80 and older are at particularly high risk.
“I certainly would encourage people to get a booster dose if they’re eligible,” she said. “One group I’m particularly concerned about is those who are older, because there is some evidence that there’s a waning of immunity [after two doses]. When there are breakthrough cases, they’re still the ones who are more likely to get a serious illness that requires hospitalization.”
Ontario’s chief medical officer of health has said there’s no firm evidence yet that adults in younger categories will face waning immunity in the same way as those 70 and up, while the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has said booster shots aren’t needed for those who aren’t in one of the higher-risk groups.
Still, the provincial government has announced plans to make booster shots available to all adults 18 and older “over the coming months.”
DeMille said the booster shot “adds another layer of protection” for individuals, as well as communities.
“We have a good immunization rate, and we know these vaccines work really well,” she said. “But there is the risk, especially as time increases from the second dose, that [people] could experience some waning of immunity… We know the boosters do boost immunity, and in some jurisdictions have resulted in less breakthrough cases.”
While she encourages adults to get booster shots when they’re eligible, she said the need is less urgent for those outside of the higher-risk categories .
“There’s no immunological cliff where suddenly at six months, people need to get it right away,” she said. “People may be a little bit more relaxed [about booking their third dose], and I think that’s okay. Two doses work really well, but the farther you get from your second dose, the more benefit that booster dose can provide.”
The booster shots are authorized by Health Canada to be administered at least six months after an individual has completed the primary series of vaccines.
Moderna’s COVID-19 booster is a half dose of the regular vaccine, 50 micrograms. Pfizer’s booster shot is identical for that used for first and second doses.
The province has not yet announced details of its plan to expand booster doses to all adults, but DeMille said she expects that to come shortly.
“What we’re anticipating is that the province will announce the use of booster doses rolling out in January for the rest of the population. I don’t know what that will look like, whether it will be going down in ages or specific to different groups.”
Booster shots for those already eligible are being administered at the health unit’s vaccine clinic at the CLE building, as well as some local pharmacies, with demand expected to pick up over the coming weeks.
Health care organizations like the hospital will administer boosters to their own staff, DeMille said.
Indigenous partners who rolled out first and second doses are also planning clinics, while the Sioux Lookout First Nation Health Authority is coordinating Operation Remote Immunity 3.0 to reach First Nations in the north.
Women More Likely to Suffer Adverse Mental Health Effects After Stroke: Report
A new report from the Heart and Stroke Foundation shows that women are more likely to suffer adverse mental health effects after a stroke, and that services and supports are lacking.
The report, Stroke and Mental Health: The Invisible and Inequitable Effects on Women, was released on Thursday.
Dr. Clair Barefoot, clinical psychologist at the Nova Scotia Rehabilitation Centre, says recovering from a stroke can take a big toll on people.
That, coupled with the additional roles women often take on—such as caring for children, can cause additional strain and force them to leave rehab early.
Barefoot says supports and services are generally lacking across Canada.
She says it is quite difficult and expensive for people to find personalized care, so she would like to see more psychologists in hospitals and more funding for the private sector so that people can access more of those services after they’re discharged.
Grail says over 400 patients incorrectly informed they may have cancer
Cancer test maker Grail Inc said on Friday that its telemedicine vendor erroneously sent letters to about 400 patients suggesting they may have developed cancer.
Grail’s flagship cancer detection blood test Galleri is designed to detect more than 50 types of cancer before symptoms appear.
The company, owned by Illumina Inc, ILMN-Q said the letters were mistakenly sent by PWNHealth due to a software issue and that it “was in no way related to or caused by an incorrect Galleri test result”.
Grail said it had reached out to the patients immediately after the issue, adding that no patient health information has been disclosed or breached due to this.
The software issue being faced by PWNHealth has now been resolved, it said.
Illumina is currently appealing regulatory orders in the U.S. and EU, which are asking the gene sequencing company to divest Grail after it jumped regulators to close its acquisition of the cancer test maker.
Rates of infectious sexual diseases on the decline in region – CambridgeToday
Unprotected sex with more than one partner in a six month period is the biggest risk factor behind a recent rise in syphilis cases in Waterloo region, according to a report on infectious disease trends from Region of Waterloo Public Health.
The annual infectious diseases surveillance report gathers and analyzes information on the infectious diseases that physicians, laboratories and hospitals are required to report to the region’s public health unit in line with Ontario Public Health Standards.
Infectious diseases are illnesses caused by microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites that have the potential to cause serious illness and outbreaks.
There were 116 reports of infectious syphilis in the region last year, a rate of 17.8 per 100,000 population compared to 23.1 across the province. The number is down from a high of 143 reported cases in 2021, and a rate of 22.2 per 100,000 that was higher than the provincial average of 20.6.
The report says rates of syphilis, while lower than the province, have increased substantially in recent years, especially among females. This trend has also been observed in the province, which suggests a shift in epidemiology and sexual health practices.
The most common sexually transmitted infections in Waterloo Region continue to be chlamydia and gonorrhea.
There were 1,388 cases of chlamydia reported across the region last year, a rate of 192.8 per 100,000 population compared to 255.9 provincially. That’s down slightly from the age-standardized rate of 196.9 per 100,000 reported in 2021.
Gonorrhea case counts continued to spike across the province in 2022, while experiencing a slight decline in the rate of infection in Waterloo region.
Waterloo region reported 266 cases last year, a rate of 38.2 per 100,000. That’s compared to 77.5 per 100,000 province-wide.
Across the board, the demographic with the highest number of cases of sexually transmitted infections locally and across the province is the 20 to 29 age group.
Mpox, previously known as monkeypox, was declared a disease of global public health concern and became a newly reportable disease in Ontario in 2022.
There were only four local cases of mpox last year. Public Health says it has been monitoring the situation, working with health care providers to provide up-todate treatment guidance, and providing mpox vaccines to high-risk individuals.
The mpox virus is most commonly spread to people through close, physical contact with an infected person.
Campylobacter enteritis and salmonellosis were the most common enteric diseases in Waterloo Region in 2022. The local rates for enteric diseases were similar to or lower than those of the province.
Risk factors for enteric illnesses such as Campylobacter enteritis and salmonellosis include consuming undercooked meats and unpasteurized dairy products, ingesting contaminated food or water, and contact with infected persons.
Rates of vaccine preventable diseases in Waterloo Region were similar to those of the province. The most common vaccine preventable diseases in Waterloo Region were pneumococcal disease and pertussis (whooping cough).
In 2022, as we returned to normal activities, we saw a return of circulating respiratory viruses including pertussis with rates higher than had been seen during the first two years of the pandemic.
Public Health says immunization is the best way to prevent whooping cough. Pneumococcal vaccine is also recommended for infants, older adults 65 years and older, and those at high risk from the infection.
Region of Waterloo Public Health undertakes a number of activities to prevent or reduce the burden of infectious diseases in the community.
Programs and services include case management, contacts and exposures for diseases of public health significance; inspections, investigations and outbreak management, including community outbreaks and those in institutions; health promotion activities and services for primary care providers, emergency service workers, childcare providers, and other community groups; and clinic-based services for sexual health, immunization, and tuberculosis screening and management.
Region of Waterloo Public Health says it will provide highlights of respiratory disease trends, including influenza, in a report to council this fall.
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