Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington Public Health has issued a Letter of Instruction requiring proof of vaccination or medical exemption for youth aged 12 to 17 who are participating in indoor sports and recreation activities, it was announced Wednesday afternoon at a KFL&A Board of Health meeting.
The board of health met to approve the budget for 2022 and also to receive a COVID-19 update from medical officer of health Dr. Piotr Oglaza.
After the proposed budget for 2022, calling for a two per cent increase for the health unit, was passed unanimously by the board, and after Oglaza provided his update, the first issue discussed was the Letter of Instruction.
As of Dec. 6, all youth participating in any indoor recreational activity will be required to provide proof of a first dose of vaccination or a valid medical exemption, with proof of a second dose being required by Feb. 25.
The Letter of Instruction was issued to owners and operators of indoor facilities, who are liable to fines of $100,000 if they fail to comply.
According to Oglaza, the instruction will ensure consistency in terms of vaccination requirements, but he does not expect that too many people will be impacted by the new requirement. Provincial legislation already requires anyone 18 and older to provide proof of vaccination to enter these facilities, and local school boards have implemented proof of vaccine requirements for students to participate in extracurricular activities.
“There’s still a remaining gap, which is those 12 to 17 who are not part of extracurricular activities at school, they’re not coaches or volunteers, and this Letter of Instruction intends to expand that, and make this consistent by requiring proof of immunization for these independents,” Oglaza explained to the board.
By putting in place a generous timeline, Oglaza hopes the few people who are affected will be able to continue benefiting from these activities while also getting immunized against COVID-19.
“We recognize the importance of and benefits of organized sports for the health and well-being of youth, and we want to balance those benefits with the protection the vaccine will extend to individuals participating in sports,” he said.
Such immunization measures are also intended to address the rising cases in the KFL&A region.
Oglaza explained that the majority of spread in the area as of late is occurring through household contacts and in social settings where public health precautions are not in place.
“We don’t see the spread happening through locations where public health measures are strong, in locations where there is proof of vaccine being required to enter, when there is masking, when there’s members in place that are currently screening,” Oglaza explained.
It is these informal settings that public health has been focusing on with public health strategy, and Oglaza hopes people will be aware of the risks as they enter the holiday season.
“I think this is an important message to the public as we are entering the season where people might be getting together socially in private settings for holiday parties, and that’s really when I would say you are at the most risk is because of the fact that (you’re) going to visit your friends or family and maybe have a few families getting together,” he said.
He encourages people to avoid high-risk situations and to continue to abide by public health measures.
Young adults with previous self-harm or eating disorders reported higher levels of depression and anxiety during the pandemic, even when restrictions had eased, according to new research.
The study, led by the University of Bristol and funded by Elizabeth Blackwell Institute, Medical Research Council and Medical Research Foundation, has been published in the Journal of Eating Disorders. It looked at questionnaire information for 2,657 individuals from world-renowned health study Children of the 90s (also known as the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children) before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Researchers analyzed the relationship between previous reports of eating disorder symptoms and self-harm before the pandemic, and mental health problems (symptoms of depression and anxiety) and mental wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study also assessed whether lifestyle changes, such as more sleep, relaxation techniques, or visiting green space, could be linked to mental health and wellbeing in young adults with and without previous eating disorder symptoms or self-harm.
Researchers studied questionnaire data from 2017, when the participants were then aged 25 years, as well as data taken during the pandemic in 2020.
At age 25, 32 percent of the 2,657 young adults reported at least one eating disorder symptom, 9 percent reported self-harm, and 5.5 percent reported both an eating disorder symptom and self-harm in the last year.
During the pandemic, those with previously reported eating disorder symptoms and/or self-harm had more symptoms of depression and anxiety, and worse mental wellbeing, compared to individuals without previous symptoms. This remained the case after adjusting for their pre-pandemic levels of depression, anxiety and mental wellbeing.
Lifestyle changes appeared to have little effect on the increased risk for mental health problems in those with prior eating disorder symptoms or self-harm.
Lead author Dr. Naomi Warne, Senior Research Associate at the University’s Centre for Academic Mental Health, said: “Eating disorders and self-harm are common and troubling mental health problems among young adults. In the UK, approximately 1.25 million people are living with an eating disorder and almost 1 in 15 adults report self-harm.
“Our research has highlighted individuals with prior self-harm and eating disorder symptoms are key risk groups and further longitudinal research is needed to understand their ongoing mental health as well as risk and protective factors.
“Individuals with previous eating disorder symptoms and self-harm should be considered vulnerable to depression and anxiety throughout the pandemic and beyond. Funding for rapid and responsive service provision is essential to reduce the impact of the pandemic on those with mental health problems.”
Naomi Warne et al, Disordered eating and self-harm as risk factors for poorer mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic: a UK-based birth cohort study, Journal of Eating Disorders (2021). DOI: 10.1186/s40337-021-00510-9
Eating disorder symptoms and self-harm linked to higher levels of depression and anxiety during COVID-19 pandemic (2021, December 8)
retrieved 8 December 2021
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There are 475 known active cases, while 31,382 cases are considered resolved and 618 people have died from the illness.
Public health officials have reported more than 61,200 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 58,800 cases now resolved. Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 235 people with COVID-19 have died. In western Quebec, the death toll is 223.
Akwesasne has had more than 1,150 residents test positive for COVID-19 and has reported 14 deaths between its northern and southern sections.
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Health Canada has approved Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for children as young as five. Doses for kids age five to 11 will be given at least eight weeks apart in both local provinces.
Worried about the risk of myocarditis or pericarditis for your child? There have been zero reported cases of this after vaccination in those aged 5-11. For older teens and young adults, a COVID infection is much more likely to cause this condition than the vaccine is. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/VaxFacts?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#VaxFacts</a> <a href=”https://t.co/8foyEC6FId”>pic.twitter.com/8foyEC6FId</a>
Our <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19</a> pop-up testing clinic has been extended to Dec. 10. Same hours 4:30 – 8:30 p.m. Located at Beechgrove Assessment Centre. Online booked appointments only – no phone bookings or walk-ins. <br><br>Book here: <a href=”https://t.co/6qy35nYz3z”>https://t.co/6qy35nYz3z</a> <a href=”https://t.co/o1FMnFvdr7″>pic.twitter.com/o1FMnFvdr7</a>
But, with the Kingston region reaching record-high COVID-19 rates, and the news of Kingston hospitals having to offload some patients due to high COVID-19 hospitalizations, many members of the community are wondering if further restrictions to curb the spread of the virus will follow.
Oglaza has long maintained that lockdown measures that worked before just won’t pass muster in the fourth wave. He says the major difference this time around is the region’s high vaccination rate. As of Tuesday, more than 82 per cent of the five and up population have two doses.
“Some of these broad measures that were saving us in the previous waves are not applicable to a situation where vast majority of the population are immunized and are also not going to address the patterns of spread that we see,” he said.
Oglaza maintains that the driving factor for the spread of the virus is household gatherings, which now account for more than half of local transmission of COVID-19.
1:34 Community reacts as COVID-19 cases rise in the Kingston region
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And while there are vaccinated individuals contracting the virus, Oglaza says, for the most part, those testing positive for COVID-19 are unvaccinated.
What’s keeping the region from lockdown measures is science, Oglaza said, which has proven that vaccines work in protecting people from serious illness. He said those who are fully vaccinated are at far less risk of getting sick and transmitting the virus to others.
“We have not seen a significant burden of infection and transmission coming from places where proof of vaccination is in effect,” he said.
But, despite recent moves from the health unit to limit private gatherings to 10 people and add extra screening at schools, the region is seeing unprecedented numbers.
KFL&A is currently third in the province in active cases per 100,000, behind only the Algoma and Sudbury health unit regions.
Councillors Ryan Boehme and Wayne Hill pressed the doctor on restrictions, asking if more should be done, but Oglaza maintained that widespread community lockdowns will do more harm than good.
“Are there other restrictions coming or are we basically talking about cancelling Christmas this year,” Boehme asked.
Oglaza said implementing a total lockdown like seen before, is not an option.
“Probably one of the most successful ways of of of stopping the chain of transmission is something that I don’t believe that anyone in this community is is is willing to accept. And we’ve seen that before. We’ve seen a stay at home order,” he said.
He said these orders adversely impact the most vulnerable populations in the region, and that many people with good jobs able to do remote work will still be able to work under stay-at-home orders.
“Others who rely on that in-person work cannot be working from home and they’re not going to be able to to really do well under these circumstances. They are disproportionately bearing the consequences of some of these very harsh measures,” he said.
He said any further restrictions would be tailored to target symptomatic people attending gatherings.
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“In the vast majority of all of these circumstances, there is a symptomatic person present in that social setting, that gathering, whether it’s an outbreak setting, workplace, school or household, the spread comes from an infected individual being present,” he said.
He said more information on masking and screening protocols will come in the next couple of days. But for now, the medical officer of health told those who are vaccinated to have faith in the protection associated with the vaccine, and urged those who are not to get their shots.
“Vaccines do work. They do show effectiveness and they do change the situation in this fourth wave compared to everything we’ve experienced so far,” he said.
“It is because of the vaccines that we can keep the workplaces and schools open.“
Oglaza will be holding a press conference at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday to answer further questions.
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