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Less than 7% of Canadian kids 5 and younger have gotten a COVID vaccine



It has been more than four months since Health Canada approved the first COVID-19 vaccine for children under five, but national uptake has been low.

The latest numbers from the Public Health Agency of Canada show, as of Oct. 9, 6.5 per cent of kids under five have received one dose of vaccine, while one per cent have received two doses.

By comparison, 86.9 per cent of Canadians five and older have received one dose, while 84.2 per cent have received two doses.

“Coverage for COVID vaccination for kids under five is quite strikingly low,” said Shannon MacDonald, a nursing professor at the University of Alberta who leads the university’s applied immunization research team.


MacDonald said that parents have different approaches to their older kids than their younger kids.

Nicholas Ruder and his daughter, Caroline, 3, are seen here on Aug. 12 as the little girl receives a COVID-19 vaccine approved for children between six months and five years old. Fewer than seven per cent of children in that age group have received one dose of the vaccine, while only one per cent have received both shots. (Sabah Rahman/CBC)

‘A parental choice’

“We’ve seen that, with COVID vaccines, that what you’re willing to do with a 12-year-old is different from what you’re willing to do with a five-year-old, [and that’s] different than a two-year-old,” she said.

“It’s partly around a parental choice thing.”

MacDonald said access also plays a role, noting that vaccinations rolled out across the country by age, and that means families may have already made multiple trips to clinics.

In Canada, she said, the uptake for routine childhood immunizations is “typically around 80 per cent plus” — but the COVID-19 vaccination may be seen as different because it’s new.

“It hasn’t been around; parents are maybe a bit concerned about the long-term picture of what that will look like,” she said. “The behaviours and attitudes for parents are very different around COVID vaccination.”

Though public health measures have been dropped across the country, the pandemic is not over. But health officials across Canada have said it’s clear that many people’s perception of the pandemic has changed.

Shannon MacDonald is a professor of nursing at the University of Alberta. She said parents sometimes have different worries about vaccinating younger children than their older ones. (Trevor Wilson/CBC)

A sense of complacency

Vaccines for kids under five “got rolled out later, at a point in the pandemic where I think Canadians, in general, are not seeing COVID-19 as much of a threat either for the children themselves or for the population at large,” said Dr. Jesse Papenburg, a pediatric infectious disease physician at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.

And if other family members with high-risk conditions have already gotten their vaccines or boosters, Papenburg said, parents may now believe there’s less immediate need to get their kids vaccinated.

But while children are at a lower risk of developing serious illness from COVID than others, some do still experience complications — and it can be at random, the specialist said.

“It’s hard to predict which ones are going to require hospitalization, which ones might be more complicated, as most of the kids who are hospitalized with Omicron actually don’t have an underlying risk factor.”

No question for some parents

For Alyssa Paterson, there was never a question of whether or not to vaccinate her two-year-old daughter Avery.

“We always knew we were going to do it,” Paterson said. “We’ve gotten all of her other vaccinations. I follow a lot of scientists online — all have vaccinated their children.”

Alyssa Paterson holds her two-year-old Avery in an Edmonton playground. Avery was vaccinated against COVID earlier this year. (Julia Wong/CBC)

Since vaccinating Avery, Paterson has felt more comfortable putting her daughter in activities such as swimming and gymnastics near the family’s home in Edmonton.

She said she can understand why parents may be nervous or feel hesitant about the vaccine, but she encourages them to look at the science behind it.

“Every parent just wants to protect their child and everyone’s doing the best they can and making the decisions they feel are right for them and their family.”

Heading into winter

As temperatures drop and the holidays draw nearer, more people will be heading indoors, and Papenburg said families should consider getting everyone vaccinated.

“The more people in that household who have been vaccinated with the primary series or have had a recent booster vaccine … that will help reduce the risk of transmission within the household as well,” he said.

A soaring number of children have been getting respiratory viruses this fall, and doctors say the COVID-19 vaccine could provide the youngest age group with an extra line of defence.

“That group is a group where we know there’s a lot of transmission … of all virus right now,” said Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Alberta.

“To enhance any protection against ongoing exposures in care settings into families is really very valuable.”

And as variants evolve, prior vaccination could offer some degree of protection, especially when it comes to serious illness and hospitalization, according to Papenburg.

“I think that’s our greatest concern is that, if there is another variant, will we be ready and will our pediatric population be protected in as adequate a way as we can?”

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New stroke treatment helps more Canadian patients return home to their normal lives –



The Current19:05Calls for greater access to life-saving treatment for stroke

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When Marleen Conacher was taken to a hospital for major stroke treatment for the second time in a week in 2021, she wasn’t treated with a clot-busting drug like she was previously given at North Battleford Hospital in Saskatchewan.

Instead, she was transported directly to Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon, where a stroke team performed an endovascular thrombectomy (EVT). 

The procedure involved passing small devices through one of the arteries in her groin, and then using suction, or tubes called stents to pull the stroke-causing blood clot out.

“I don’t recall when they, they put the little claw-like thing up through my groin and it went up through the artery and, and into my brain,” she said. “But I do remember feeling when they had got to it and were pulling it out.”

“It was a great deal of pressure. It did not hurt, but it was a great deal of pressure,” she told The Current‘s Matt Galloway.

Within a few days of the stroke, Conacher was out of the hospital, walking on her own and ready to go shopping. 

She said she doesn’t think about the stroke much these days.

“I don’t spend a lot of time, you know, thinking about having a stroke or whatever or that time,” she said. “I just thank the good Lord that I am here.”

Marleen Conacher (centre), pictured with her two granddaughters. Physicians performed an endovascular thrombectomy on her when she suffered a stroke in July 2021. (Gray & Arbor Photography)

EVT procedures are a relatively new option in the field of ischemic stroke treatment. In 2015, a study known as the escape stroke trial led by the University of Calgary’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute found that, overall, positive outcomes for stroke patients increased from 20 per cent to 55 per cent thanks to EVTs.

Today, EVTs are used in about 25 to 30 major hospitals across Canada — and according to the senior study author and stroke specialist Dr. Michael Hill, it’s had a “massive treatment effect.”

“People would come in and they were paralyzed on one side, they couldn’t speak or they were severely affected, and they were leaving the hospital in two or three days,” he told Galloway.

“That was a visible change … whereas [before] people would have stayed many days and weeks for their recovery and rehab, if they survived at all.”

Speed is critical

Hill said the key to this procedure’s success is speed, as “10 or 15 minutes makes a difference.”

That’s why a patient is often greeted at the door by a team of emergency department nurses, physicians and the stroke specialist.

“When we’re alerted to a stroke or suspected stroke syndrome and we’re meeting somebody in the emergency room, we’re hustling to get there and be there before the patient or just after the patient arrives,” said Hill, who is a neurologist at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary.

WATCH: Dr. Michael Mayich explains how clots that cause strokes can be removed

New medical device removes blood clots in stroke patients in minutes

8 months ago

Duration 0:25

Dr. Michael Mayich at the London Health Sciences Centre’s University Hospital explains how a new medical device from Vena Medical is used to remove clots in the brain that cause a stroke and reverse those symptoms.

From there, medical personnel conduct a clinical and imaging assessment to confirm if a patient has a blood clot and where it may be.

If the clot is in a location that is “amenable to a vascular treatment,” then an EVT will be offered.

Sedation can be approached in two ways, he said.

“Sometimes, patients are completely co-operative and we can do it completely awake. Sometimes they require some degree of sedation to keep them still.” 

“You can imagine it’s important to do this procedure with your head relatively still. You can’t have them thrashing around.”

A man in a suit leans over a desk, looking at the camera. Behind him is a laptop showing pieces of a clot retrieved from a stroke patient.
Dr Michael Hill, who helped pioneer the development of thrombectomies in Canada, shows pieces of a clot retrieved from a stroke patient. (CBC)

A game-changer

Hill said EVTs have a lot of potential in improving stroke treatment, as positive outcomes are a lot more frequent.

“So it’s terrific, right? We get people back to their lives,” he said. 

In an ideal world, of course it’s available everywhere because you don’t have a stroke just because you live in the middle of Calgary or the middle of Toronto, right?-Dr. Michael Hill, stroke physician

At the moment, EVTs aren’t available for all Canadians. Hill said the procedure is usually reserved for patients with the most severe forms of ischemic stroke, which occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or reduced.

“It’s a tertiary-level procedure. You’re not going to see it in a small, rural hospital,” he said.

But part of that has to do with the volume of cases needed in order to develop expertise in this field, and it’s big hospitals in major cities that tend to see the most patients.

“So if you’re just doing one a year, you’re more likely to have complications than you are to be successful,” he said. “Whereas if you’re doing 150 a year … everyone’s ready for these things to occur because you’re doing it so frequently.”

Still, it’s important to balance that expertise with availability.

“In an ideal world, of course [EVT is] available everywhere because you don’t have a stroke just because you live in the middle of Calgary or the middle of Toronto, right?” He said. 

For the time being, Conacher is content with how the procedure turned out — it’s been nearly two years and the only major impact the stroke has had is a bit of memory loss.

Furthermore, as someone who saw her dad suffer paralysis in his left side due to stroke, she’s pleased with the way stroke treatment is evolving.

“If they had things like this, I think he would have been just as fine as I was,” she said. 

Produced by Ines Colabrese.

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Study shows well-established protective gene for Alzheimer's only safeguards against cognitive decline in men – Sunnybrook Research Institute – Sunnybrook Hospital




The gene variant is one of three that can affect the chances of a person developing Alzheimer’s disease.



A new study led by Sunnybrook researchers has found that APOE ε2, a gene variant known to be protective against Alzheimer’s disease, is only protective in men and not women. The research was published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association today.

“Previous research has shown that women have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease,” says Dr. Jennifer Rabin, senior author of the study and a scientist in the Hurvitz Brain Sciences Program at Sunnybrook Research Institute. “Although factors such as longer survival may contribute to why women are more likely to develop the disease, recent research suggests biological mechanisms may also impact sex differences in Alzheimer’s risk and progression.”

APOE ε2 is one of three inherited gene variants that can affect the chances of a person developing Alzheimer’s disease. Having the APOE ε2 variant decreases risk, whereas having the APOE ε4 variant increases risk. APOE ε3, the most common variant, is believed to have a neutral effect on the disease.

The collaborative study team, which included researchers from Canada and the United States, looked at whether sex modifies the association between the protective APOE ε2 gene variant and cognitive decline, using publicly available data from cognitively unimpaired adults that were part of four observational research sources.

The authors found that across two independent samples of participants, men with APOE ε2 were more protected against cognitive decline compared to women with the same APOE ε2 variant. In addition, men with APOE ε2 were more protected compared to men with the neutral gene variant (APOE ε3/ε3). However, this was not the case in women. In women, those with APOE ε2 were no more protected than those with the neutral gene variant (APOE ε3/ε3). The reasons for these sex-specific effects remain unclear. However, one possibility is that declining estrogen levels that occur with menopause may be a contributing factor given that estrogen has neuroprotective effects.

“These results suggest that the longstanding view that APOE ε2 provides protection against Alzheimer’s disease may require reevaluation,” says Madeline Wood, a graduate student at Sunnybrook and lead author of the study. “Our findings have important implications for developing sex-specific strategies to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease, particularly given that women are at a higher risk than men.”

The authors say the next step in their research is to continue to replicate the findings in large and diverse samples and to further investigate the sex-specific effects of APOE ε2 on Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers.

Funding for this study was supported by The Harquail Centre for Neuromodulation, the Dr. Sandra Black Centre for Brain Resilience & Recovery, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada.

Media Contact:
Samantha Sexton
Communications Manager, Sunnybrook Research Institute

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WHO says medium-risk adults do not need extra COVID jabs – The Jakarta Post – The Jakarta Post



Robin Millard (The Jakarta Post)



Agence France-Presse/Geneva, Switzerland   ●  
Thu, March 30 2023

The World Health Organization said on Tuesday it is no longer recommending additional COVID-19 vaccine booster doses for regular, medium-risk adults as the benefit was marginal.

For such people who have received their primary vaccination course and one booster dose, there is no risk in having further jabs but the returns are slight, WHO’s vaccine experts said.

The United Nations health agency’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) issued updated recommendations after its regular biannual meeting.

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