Flu shots became available across the province on Oct. 19, and pharmacists have been overwhelmed by public response for vaccinations.
The vaccines are being offered free of charge, as per usual, but Alberta Health Services isn’t offering them through large public health clinics this year. Health clinics are only available to children under five and their families through appointment. Everyone else is required to get the vaccinations at a pharmacy or through their doctor. This is being done to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Nicole Schettler, a pharmacist at Remedy’sRX, said they have seen a huge increase in demand for the flu shot.
“We have had incredible uptake this year. I think over the course of last year, we gave out just under 297 doses total. We are already well above 350 this year,” she said.
Schettler said there are two reasons why they’ve seen an increase. Everyone who would normally go to a flu clinic is being directed toward their offices, and people are also looking for preventative measures in response to COVID-19.
“It’s a good tool in our toolbox. And then, with people having to stay home from work or school at the first sign of any sort of symptoms, they can at least hopefully cut their chances of it being the flu,” Schettler said. “And hopefully they’ll miss less work or school as a result.”
The government ordered a record 1.96 million doses of the vaccine this year, or enough to vaccinate 45 per cent of the population. Last year, 33 per cent of Albertans were immunized or about 1.4 million people.
The government is recommending people get immunized to keep flu counts low.
“The flu shot won’t prevent COVID-19, but it will reduce your chances of getting others sick,” stated Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw in a press statement.
The flu, a contagious respiratory disease, is caused by a virus that affects the nose, throat and lungs. It lowers the body’s ability to fight other infections and can lead to other complications.
Influenza can be dangerous for those at risk, such as seniors, children under four, and those with compromised immune systems. Alberta saw 1,595 hospitalizations and 41 confirmed deaths from the flu virus last year.
The flu also puts more stress on the health care system and that’s stress that isn’t needed.
“Flu is still a big public health issue, and I think it often gets overlooked. This year, obviously, we really need to try and keep the capacity in our hospitals open so that we can deal with other things such as COVID or other emergencies that still happen,” said Schettler.
There are a few things that people should be aware of when getting the vaccine, Schettler explains. Kids who are under the age of nine and have never had the vaccine before need to get two shots, at least eight weeks apart.
Pharmacists aren’t offering publicly funded nasal spray vaccines this year, but families can pay out of pocket for the spray. High-dose vaccinations aren’t generally available either as they have been allotted for long-term care facilities.
Schettler said the shot they are offering, even though it isn’t high-dose, is still an excellent vaccine.
“It actually protects a little bit better against the influenza strain that children are more likely to transmit,” she explained. “So, in some ways, even though it’s not the high-dose vaccine, it may even be better in some circumstances than the high-dose vaccine.”
The flu shot is good for about a year and effectiveness peaks around two months after immunization, which is why people are encouraged to get the shot in October, as a preparation for the holiday season.
Schettler said even if you’ve already had the flu, you should still get immunized as there are many different strains. She also said it is possible to catch the flu after receiving the shot.
“It’s generally a milder illness with less complications,” Schettler said. “Even if you’ve had the flu shot in the past and then got the flu, it’s still better than not having the flu shot. Because it does kind of prep your body to deal with it. And generally, severity is much less.”
The flu shot isn’t the only way to prevent flu illness. Hinshaw is recommending people use methods that have become all too familiar during the pandemic to prevent the spread of the flu virus.
“While getting immunized helps, it’s also crucial to wash your hands often, cover coughs and sneezes and stay home while sick,” said Hinshaw.
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Article content continued
Their announcement followed on the heels of news from two rivals in the global coronavirus vaccine race — Pfizer and Moderna — that their products appeared to be 95 per cent effective in phase-three trials.
The promising results are better than expected. But all require two doses, with a gap of 21 days for Pfizer’s product and 28 days for the other two.
It has to be done
In fact, of the seven vaccines in late-stage trials that the federal government has pre-ordered, only one, developed by Johnson & Johnson, needs just a single injection. It has yet to report any phase 3 results.
Adherence to multi-dose vaccinations is relatively good for young children, who typically have regular medical appointments and are guided by their parents, noted Wilson.
The research around adult vaccination is more sparse but the findings have a consistent theme, the word “suboptimal” appearing in many of the papers.
A 2009 U.S. study, for instance, found that only 40-50 per cent of people completed two-dose hepatitis A and varicella (chicken pox) vaccinations, the numbers falling even lower for teenagers and young adults.
A U.K. study published last year found that a mere 11 per cent of adults got the required two doses of Hepatitis A vaccine within one year, the number rising to just 23 per cent by 36 months. A similar U.S. study in 2018 suggested only 32 per cent of adults had obtained their second Hepatitis A injection within 42 months.
People have told researchers they didn’t know an additional shot was needed, couldn’t fit it into their schedule or needed a reminder, said Houle, who helped conduct a similar study using Alberta data..
Fire at Burnaby Hospital a factor in COVID-19 outbreak affecting 55 patients – Global News
Forty staff members have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and health officials are working to determine if they are connected to the outbreak.
The hospital is not accepting new admissions, Fraser Health said, with the exception of the intensive care unit, maternity unit, and community palliative care.
Fraser Health declared an outbreak at the hospital on Nov. 9 after finding evidence of transmission in a medicine unit.
A fire at the hospital on Nov. 16 appears to have contributed to the outbreak, the health authority said, as patients had to be moved into different areas of the hospital during the blaze for their safety.
RCMP continue to investigate the cause of the fire.
Burnaby hospital emergency room temporarily closed after fire
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Golden Links Lodge addresses concerns over group activities held prior to COVID outbreak – CTV News Winnipeg
The COVID-19 outbreak at Golden Links Lodge in Winnipeg continues to grow, and now the care home is responding to questions about recreational activities that had been taking place inside the facility prior to the outbreak.
According to the latest numbers from the care home, there have been 53 cases among residents and 20 cases among care home staff.
The province said three people have died, leaving family members concerned about their loved ones.
On Nov. 15 Jordan Hanna found out his grandma tested positive for the disease.
“It’s a flood of fear,” said Hanna.
There have been more than 70 cases linked to Golden Links Lodge since an outbreak was declared on Nov. 11.
Photos posted on the Golden Links Facebook page on Nov. 6 show residents gathered inside the care home for a worship service. Three days later it showed them taking part in an exercise class. Activities Hanna feels are important but are too risky given the way the virus spreads.
“The seniors here are anywhere from 60 to 100 and they’re already stuck in one place for so long,” said Hanna. “It’s hard to deny them that entertainment or excitement or connection. So I think it has its place but definitely not right now.”
Provincial guidelines only say people in personal care homes who are isolating should not participate in group activities.
In an email to CTV News the care home’s CEO Marcy-Lynn Larner said there is no evidence any recreation activities have contributed to the outbreak.
Larner said contact tracing indicates the initial transmission is staff-related.
“Every attempt has always been made to ensure the well-being of our residents is always our priority while balancing meaningful stimulation and activity to our residents’ lives,” Larner said.
Like other long term care centres, the not-for-profit care home has been dealing with staffing shortages due to infections among workers.
Four City of Winnipeg paramedics and a district chief of operations responded to Golden Links last Thursday night as part of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority’s rapid response team. Full assessments were conducted on seven residents — one was taken to hospital.
The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service returned Friday, completed more assessments, and vowed to continue providing support when needed.
Emergency crews cleared the scene Friday night and have not been required to return, a WFPS spokesperson said Tuesday.
Hanna said it’s clear more help is needed and wants the military called in.
“So they can one, care for people — make sure that they’re attended to and also do what they did in Ontario and Quebec and start reviewing the best practices, how they’re handling things and provide a report,” said Hanna.
Last week Golden Links put out a call to families to help out with their loved ones at the care home.
Larner said a few families have been attending, while others enlisted support through an agency that provides companionship.
According to Larner, four residents are on what the care home describes as social leaves with their families.
Larner said staff have been working around the clock to care for residents who remain at Golden Links and promised to keep families updated.
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