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High risk but no jab: Disabled Nova Scotians question why they can't get early COVID-19 shots – The Guardian

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SYDNEY — Some disabled Nova Scotians are questioning why they’re not being grouped with seniors for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

People like Coxheath resident Susan Burke and Halifax resident Casey Perrin are afraid to leave their homes until they are vaccinated. Both are at high risk of serious complications if they contract the disease.

Buke’s isolation started in February 2020 at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital where she spent time in intensive care, had multiple surgeries and was not released until September. She’s been home ever since and has a bubble of three people: her sister, her boyfriend and her homecare worker.

“I’m not taking any chances. Would you? If you had my underlying conditions?” said Burke, who has spina bifida and can’t use the lower half of her body.

“I’m not taking any chances. My brother doesn’t even come in. He comes to shovel for me and he pops his head in the kitchen door and I yell at him, ‘Thanks,’ from the kitchen. I don’t go near him.”

Perrin, 28, broke her T5 and T6 vertebrae after being thrown from an all-terrain vehicle. Her respiratory muscles are affected, which means she can’t cough properly, making respiratory illnessed like COVID-19 very dangerous for her.

“People don’t know how to properly wear masks or stay socially distanced. I can’t take the chance I might get COVID. I could die if I do,” she said.

“I’m a social, bubbly girl. I can make the wall talk to me. Staying at home all the time isn’t good for me. I’ve not left my house since last March. I feel like I’m going crazy. But I have to until I can get vaccinated.”

THE ELDERLY QUESTION

Because she’s in her 20s, Perrin is in the last vaccination group in Nova Scotia’s inoculation plan, which starts from oldest to youngest. 

Casey Perrin getting ready for her throw during the 2017 Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg. CONTRIBUTED

According to the provincial govenment’s website, novascotia.ca, the plan is in three phases and allows for fluctuations in vaccine availability.

Phase one includes vaccinating people working in close contact with patients, residents of long-term care home and the elderly living in the community starting with ages 80 and up.

Also included are residents of adult residential centres, regional rehabilitation centres and residential care facilities.

Disabled people living in the community, like Burke and Perrin, have to wait until their age group’s turn, regardless of how serious their underlying conditions might be.

“Disabled people are usually put (in groupings) with seniors, in every aspect with things and in this situation we’re not,” Perrin said. “We’re immunocompromised. I’m at very high risk if I get COVID just like they are.”

Burke also said her experience has been disabled people are always groups with seniors and doesn’t understand why they aren’t in this situation.

“We should be with the elderly … I don’t know why we aren’t,” she said. “We have the same conditions like they would. Their immune system’s the same as mine. I can catch anything.”

WHAT STRANG SAYS

During the Feb. 25 briefing with reporters, Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health, told media the evidence indicates the highest at-risk and most vulnerable to serious illness from COVID-19 are older people.

“As for one-offs, we have to understand that first and foremost by far the greatest risk factor for severe disease is age. By far,” said Strang.

“If we go down the road of developing one-offs or different categories, whether it’s health conditions, or, we have many, many occupational groups who are lining up saying, ‘We are essential, we need to be vaccinated first.’ If you go down that road, you actually slow down substantively the rollout of your vaccine program.”

Perrin watched the online broadcast of the briefing and said she’s “a bit uneasy” with Strang’s response about age and severity of impacts of the disease.

“There should be more to the criteria than age, like risk factors that many younger age groups have, that should be a consideration,” Perrin said.

“For example, if you don’t have the ability to cough effectively, as in my case, the results of catching COVID could be life threatening. There are many people that are younger but not as ‘healthy’ as the general population.”

HERD IMMUNITY

Strang said they’re working with the disabled community to determine how to get people living in small group homes, who often share work space with other people, immunized as quickly as possible while rolling out the age-based plan.

“If we stick with mainly an age-based vaccine program that allows us to get to our end point the fastest and that end point is giving every Nova Scotian the chance to get vaccinated,” said Strang.

“And also as we rollout — we’re building herd immunity and even those who are still waiting are protected because we’re building herd immunity.

“My job is to look at how we roll this out that has the greatest protection for all Nova Scotians and I get the one-off situations but by sticking primarily with age-based process, we will provide protection for all Nova Scotians directly and indirectly in the fastest way possible.”

During the provincial COVID-19 update on Friday, Premier Iain Rankin announced the government expected to have all Nova Scotians vaccinated with a first shot by the end of June, now that the province has accepted the National Advisory Committee on Immunization’s recommendation of a maximum span of four months between the first and second dose of the vaccine.

Earlier estimates indicated about 70 per cent of Nova Scotians would be vaccinated by the end of September.

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COVID cases in Ontario could spike to 30,000 per day by June

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TORONTO (Reuters) – New cases of COVID-19 in Canada‘s most populous province could rise more than six fold, topping 30,000 per day by early June if public health measures are weak and vaccination rates remain flat, a panel of experts advising the province of Ontario said on Friday.

Even if measures to control the virus are “moderate,” the number of patients in Ontario ICUs could reach 2,000 in May, up from 695 on Friday.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario told doctors last week they may soon have to decide who can and cannot receive intensive care.

 

(Reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Chris Reese)

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Moderna sees shortfall in Britain COVID vaccine shipments, EU deliveries on track

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ZURICH (Reuters) – U.S. drugmaker Moderna expects a shortfall in COVID-19 vaccine doses from its European supply chain hitting second-quarter delivery quantities for Britain and Canada, though European Union– and Swiss-bound shipments are on track, a spokesperson said.

The delays, first announced on Friday when Canada said Moderna would be delivering only about half the planned 1.2 million doses by the end of April, come as Switzerland’s Lonza ramps up three new production lines to make active ingredients for Moderna vaccine supplies outside of the United States.

“The trajectory of vaccine manufacturing ramp-up is not linear, and despite best efforts, there is a shortfall in previously estimated doses from the European supply chain,” Moderna said in a statement.

Lonza didn’t immediately return a phone call and email seeking comment on any issues in its production.

 

(Reporting by John Miller; editing by David Evans)

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Moderna says vaccines to Canada to be delayed due to Europe shortfall

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(Reuters) -Moderna Inc said on Friday a shortfall in COVID-19 vaccine doses from its European supply chain will lead to a delay in deliveries to some countries including Canada.

The drugmaker would be delivering only 650,000 doses by April end as opposed to 1.2 million, Canada‘s Procurement Minister Anita Anand said in a statement.

She said one to two million doses of the 12.3 million doses scheduled for delivery by Moderna in the second quarter would be delayed until the third.

Moderna officials in Europe did not immediately comment on the reason for the delays or give the total number of countries that would be impacted.

“Vaccine manufacturing is a highly complex process and a number of elements, including human and material resources have factored into this volatility,” said Patricia Gauthier, an executive at Moderna Canada.

Canada has distributed a total of 2.82 million doses of the Moderna vaccine as of April 14 and 12.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in total.

Moderna has been aiming to deliver 700 million to 1 billion doses of the COVID-19 globally this year, including from plants in Europe and the United States.

Swiss contract drug manufacturer Lonza makes active ingredients for Moderna’s vaccine in Visp, but it was still ramping up three new production lines that once operational would be able to produce 300 million shots annually.

The current supply, demand and distribution landscape has led the drugmaker to make adjustments in the expected second-quarter deliveries, Gauthier said.

(Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru, Allison Martell in Toronto and John Miller in Zurich; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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