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'Hectic week' for pharmacies as flu shot demand soars – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Demand for the flu shot soared this week as the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic intensified across the country.

Following warnings that a “twindemic” of influenza and COVID-19 this fall could overwhelm hospitals, researchers had reported that more Canadians than normal were likely to seek out influenza immunization. The Public Health Agency of Canada said more than 13 million doses were ordered this year, compared to 11.2 million in 2019.

But as the flu shot became available in Ontario this week, pharmacies were already feeling the pinch. At his two Shoppers Drug Mart locations in the west end of Ottawa, pharmacist and owner Jordan Clark said it’s been an “all hands on deck situation.” Between his two locations, Clark says he and staff have already administered about 1,000 flu shots since Tuesday.

“It’s been a hectic week,” he told CTVNews.ca over the phone on Friday. “In my one store, the demand has been much, much higher than we anticipated. We definitely had to make some adjustments on the fly.”

He added additional pharmacists to give flu shots, with a total of four people administering the vaccines at any given time, he said, and was forced to pull staff from the front of the store to monitor lineups.

Though some Shoppers Drug Mart locations and other pharmacies were out of stock in less than 24 hours, others remain stocked and have continued to be replenished throughout the week. In previous years, pharmacies might need to be restocked once every week or two, but this season has already proven different.

Pharmacies in B.C. experienced the same rush this week. Although many pharmacies are asking customers to book ahead online, most appointments in the Vancouver area have been booked.

“It’s just been non-stop, which is great,” Victor Chu, the owner of the Pharmasave in Vancouver’s Bentall Centre, told CTV Vancouver. “I’m getting people I don’t normally see for flu shots coming in, so the uptake is amazing.”

Though Chu has “plenty” of vaccines for now, he worried that the uptick may lead to a shortage in time. B.C. ordered an additional 450,000 doses of the flu vaccination this year and, although officials have maintained there will be enough to go around, they note seniors and those with underlying health conditions should be given first dibs.

Alberta ordered 1.96 million doses of the vaccine this year, a record for the province and more than 20 per cent compared to last year.

Vulnerable Albertans are already able to get their flu shot; however, the rest of the population will have to wait until Oct. 19.

“Most pharmacies are planning for an appointment-based process, which is very different from previous years,” Matt Tachuk with the Alberta Pharmacists Association, told CTV Edmonton.

“They’re confident that they’re going to have sufficient vaccine to supply the entire flu season,” said Clark. “But because the demand is so front-loaded, there may be gaps in some days where stores do run out but then are being supplied shortly there after.”

Nationally, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) assists in co-ordinating and overseeing the distribution of the flu vaccine for public programs, along with Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC), Health Canada, vaccine manufacturers, and provincial or territorial partners.

“PHAC does not decide how much vaccine provincial and territorial governments purchase for their populations; this decision is made by each provincial and territorial government based on past experience, the influenza season forecast, and the requirements of its immunization program,” a PHAS spokesperson told CTVNews.ca.

This year, officials factored in the expectation that demand would spike during the pandemic, but it wasn’t enough for some pharmacies, even this early in the season.

“Some stores are just seeing truly unprecedented numbers within the first week,” Clark said.

Ontario pharmacists have been reassured by the Ministry of Health, which provides the flu shots, that the supply will not run out and is merely “front-loaded” at the moment.

PHAS notes that, to meet the increase in demand this year, a small portion of Canada’s vaccines will also be supplied in November and December.

“At the present time, no supply issues are expected this year and the increased demand by provinces and territories that has occurred since orders were first placed with suppliers in February is expected to be met in full,” the PHAC spokesperson noted.

The demand for the flu shot has been anticipated for months. In September, a group of Ontario pediatricians warned of a “potentially devastating collision course” ahead of flu season if the government didn’t develop a mass immunization strategy. Toronto pediatric emergency physician Dr. Dina Kulik told CTVNews.ca last month that this could be drive-thru options like what has been seen at some COVID-19 testing clinics and “outdoor tents set up where kids can go through one at a time.”

Some doctors, including at least one in New Brunswick, are already hosting outdoor flu clinics in parking lots, while others are considering drive-thru clinics. Even without tents and outdoor options, the flu shot process is different in 2020 than in year’s past, not only for increased COVID-19 safety protocols, including mandatory masking indoors, physical distancing and hand sanitizing stations. Many pharmacies are encouraging customers to fill out registration forms online to curb wait times in the store.​

– With files from CTV Vancouver and CTV Edmonton 

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Enrollment halt recommended for sickest COVID-19 patients in Regeneron trials – MassLive.com

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The independent monitoring committee for Regeneron Pharmaceuticals trials of REGN-COV2, its promising antibody cocktail drug for COVID-19, has recommended placing a hold on further trial enrollment of hospitalized patients who require high-flow oxygen or mechanical ventilation.

The recommendation is based on a “potential safety signal and an unfavorable risk/benefit profile at this time,” according to a statement on Regeneron’s website.

The committee recommended continuing enrollment of hospitalized patients “requiring either no or low-flow oxygen as the risk/benefit remains acceptable” and “continuance of the outpatient trial without modification.”

The drug, along with the steroid dexamethasone, the repurposed Ebola drug remdesivir and supplemental oxygen, were given to President Donald Trump when he was hospitalized for COVID-19 in early October at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

It consists of two cloned antibodies designed to neutralize SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the respiratory disease, by blocking its ability to infect the body through binding with host cells.

The drug was said to show promise this summer in helping to reduce the viral load as well as alleviate symptoms in trials involving non-hospitalized patients being treated for COVID-19, and specifically in those patients who had not mounted their own immune response to SARS-COV-2.

Antivirals are generally considered to work better when given before an infection has taken hold in the body.

Regeneron said it is informing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is currently evaluating REGN-COV2 for a potential Emergency Use Authorization in mild-to-moderate outpatients at high risk for poor outcomes.

It said it would share the recommendation with the independent committee monitoring the RECOVERY trial in the UK, which is evaluating REGN-COV2 in hospitalized patients.

Eli Lilly & Co. recently announced the clinical trial involving the use of its antibody drug bamlanivimab as an added treatment in hospitalized COVID-19 patients had ended as the trial showed it “is unlikely to help” these patients “recover from this advanced stage of their disease.”

It said other trials involving the drug would continue.

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Coronavirus: About 20% of grocery store workers in Boston had COVID-19, and most were asymptomatic, study found – WABC-TV

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Grocery store work in Boston puts employees at serious risk for infection, a new study found, particularly those who have to interact with customers.

These workers likely became a “significant transmission source” for COVID-19 without even knowing it because most in the study were asymptomatic.

The analysis, published Thursday in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, is the first to demonstrate the significant asymptomatic infection rate, exposure risks and psychological distress grocery workers have felt during the pandemic.

In the study, 20% of the 104 grocery workers tested at a store in Boston in May had positive nasal swab tests.

This was a significantly higher rate of infection than what was seen in the surrounding communities, the researchers said. Workers who dealt with customers were five times as likely to test positive for COVID-19 as colleagues in other positions.

Myths about COVID-19 busted: Masks, indoor transmission, cold weather, and more

But three out of four of those who tested positive had no symptoms.

“We were definitely surprised to see that there were that many people that were asymptomatic,” said Dr. Justin Yang, an assistant professor at Boston University School of Medicine and a researcher at Harvard School of Public Health who worked on the study. “This is definitely very alarming as it means that retail grocery store employees are exposed to customers and sort of serve as a middleman for the virus – like a super spreader almost.”

Workers in the study had tried to take precautions. Nearly all, 91%, said they wore a face mask at work and 77% said they also wore masks outside of work. Yet only about 66% said they were able to practice social distancing consistently on the job.

This inability to social distance had an emotional, as well as a physical impact. Nearly a quarter of the people in customer service jobs said they had problems with anxiety and depression compared to 8% of workers who did not have to interact with customers. Employees who commuted to work by bike, car or by walking were less likely to experience depression than those who used public transportation, the study found.

“If you are in an environment when you’re literally in front of a customer, you can’t be more than six feet and that is really stressful for essential employees,” Yang said.

At least 108 grocery workers have died and more than 16,300 have been infected or exposed to Covid-19, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, or UFCW, said Thursday. The union represents 1.3 million employees.

The rates of infection among the workers in this study do seem high, Yang said. By comparison, an earlier study of Covid-19 infections among Dutch health care workers found the infection rate was about 10%.

Yang said he hopes this study prompts the government and store owners to provide better guidance, routine testing and protection for grocery store workers.

There has been a national movement to designate grocery workers as first responders which would give them priority access to testing and personal protective equipment.

In an editorial for CNN in August, Marc Perrone, the President of UFCW and Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris argued that grocery workers should also get hazard pay.

Non-union grocery workers often have little to no healthcare coverage, meaning they could potentially face expensive health care bills if they contracted COVID-19.

Some states have increased support for grocery workers by increasing access to childcare and requiring shoppers to wear masks. Three states offer free testing for these workers and four offer worker’s compensation, according to UFCW, but none of the states provide the full first responder status to grocery workers, and rules are inconsistent from state-to-state.

“We spend a lot of time talking about healthcare workers, and they are important, but we’re missing a lot of the pieces of the puzzle if we don’t look at non-health care workers exposure,” Yang said. “Their voices are really not being heard. I thought it was important to get this published so government agencies and store owners could take note of this and see that they should be protecting their employees more.”

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This Weird COVID Symptom Could Last Five Months, Study Shows – Yahoo Canada Shine On

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This Weird COVID Symptom Could Last Five Months, Study Shows

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="A new analysis of COVID "long haulers" has found that they may have skin symptoms for months—including the strange phenomenon "COVID toes," which one man had for almost six months. The analysis looked at nearly 1,000 COVID patients from 39 countries. Patients reported a number of skin-related symptoms, and the average duration was 12 days. But some conditions lasted much longer. Read on to learn more, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus.” data-reactid=”19″>A new analysis of COVID “long haulers” has found that they may have skin symptoms for months—including the strange phenomenon “COVID toes,” which one man had for almost six months. The analysis looked at nearly 1,000 COVID patients from 39 countries. Patients reported a number of skin-related symptoms, and the average duration was 12 days. But some conditions lasted much longer. Read on to learn more, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus.

COVID Toes Could Last For Months

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content=""When we started looking at symptom duration, some of these patients are having really incredibly long-lasting symptoms," Dr. Esther Freeman, the principal investigator of the registry and the director of Global Health Dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, told NBC News. "In particular, we saw that with chilblains, also known as COVID toes, where they’ve been having skin symptoms for more than 60 days."” data-reactid=”21″>“When we started looking at symptom duration, some of these patients are having really incredibly long-lasting symptoms,” Dr. Esther Freeman, the principal investigator of the registry and the director of Global Health Dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, told NBC News. “In particular, we saw that with chilblains, also known as COVID toes, where they’ve been having skin symptoms for more than 60 days.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="One patient had COVID toes for 130 days, and another had the condition for more than 150 days, the study said.&nbsp;” data-reactid=”22″>One patient had COVID toes for 130 days, and another had the condition for more than 150 days, the study said. 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content=""They’ve had toe swelling and toe discoloration and toe pain for many months," said Freeman. "They’ve had this really kind of persistent inflammation."&nbsp;” data-reactid=”23″>“They’ve had toe swelling and toe discoloration and toe pain for many months,” said Freeman. “They’ve had this really kind of persistent inflammation.” 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="RELATED: 11 Symptoms of COVID You Never Want to Get” data-reactid=”24″>RELATED: 11 Symptoms of COVID You Never Want to Get

Skin Symptoms a Common Sign of COVID

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Other studies have shown that up to 20% of people diagnosed with COVID-19 report skin changes as part of their illness, including a rash, hives or breakouts resembling chicken pox or the scaly plaques of psoriasis. When doctors noticed several patients reported a rash on their feet, "COVID toes" became a common term and a source of curiosity.&nbsp;” data-reactid=”26″>Other studies have shown that up to 20% of people diagnosed with COVID-19 report skin changes as part of their illness, including a rash, hives or breakouts resembling chicken pox or the scaly plaques of psoriasis. When doctors noticed several patients reported a rash on their feet, “COVID toes” became a common term and a source of curiosity. 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Overall, COVID-related skin changes are so common that researchers behind the COVID Symptom Study say they should be considered a fourth key sign of COVID-19, along with fever, cough and loss of smell or taste.” data-reactid=”27″>Overall, COVID-related skin changes are so common that researchers behind the COVID Symptom Study say they should be considered a fourth key sign of COVID-19, along with fever, cough and loss of smell or taste.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The coronavirus has been observed to cause inflammation throughout the body, including in the lungs, heart and brain. COVID toes seem to be connected to this inflammatory process. "This data adds to our knowledge about how COVID-19 can affect multiple different organ systems, even after patients have recovered from their acute infection," said Freeman in a press release about the new study. "The skin can provide a visual window into inflammation that may be going on elsewhere in the body."” data-reactid=”28″>The coronavirus has been observed to cause inflammation throughout the body, including in the lungs, heart and brain. COVID toes seem to be connected to this inflammatory process. “This data adds to our knowledge about how COVID-19 can affect multiple different organ systems, even after patients have recovered from their acute infection,” said Freeman in a press release about the new study. “The skin can provide a visual window into inflammation that may be going on elsewhere in the body.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="RELATED: Dr. Fauci Says You Don’t Have to Do This Anymore to Avoid COVID” data-reactid=”29″>RELATED: Dr. Fauci Says You Don’t Have to Do This Anymore to Avoid COVID

What to Do About COVID Toes

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="According to the American Academy of Dermatology, children, teenagers, and young adults are most likely to develop COVID toes. Many never develop other symptoms of COVID-19, and when they do, symptoms tend to be mild. Applying a hydrocortisone cream to the affected area can reduce pain or itching.” data-reactid=”31″>According to the American Academy of Dermatology, children, teenagers, and young adults are most likely to develop COVID toes. Many never develop other symptoms of COVID-19, and when they do, symptoms tend to be mild. Applying a hydrocortisone cream to the affected area can reduce pain or itching.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="If you experience any symptoms of COVID-19, including an unexplained skin rash, it’s best to contact your doctor for advice.&nbsp;” data-reactid=”32″>If you experience any symptoms of COVID-19, including an unexplained skin rash, it’s best to contact your doctor for advice. 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="And do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.” data-reactid=”33″>And do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.

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