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Major pharmacy chain has 'temporarily paused' flu shots amid vaccine shortage – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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A major chain of pharmacies has “temporarily paused” flu shot vaccinations amid supply issues that it says are provincewide.

In a statement provided to CP24 on Monday, Rexall said that it has “communicated to customers and patients that flu shots have been temporarily paused due to supply issues.”

The pharmacy chain says that while “all efforts” are being made to secure additional dosages “promptly” vaccine supply is ultimately “determined and allocated by the provincial Ministry of Health.”

The province has previously said that it has ordered 5.1 million individual doses of the flu vaccine this year, which is a 16 per cent increase on the 4.4 million doses it ordered in 2019.

Demand for the flu shot, however, has went up significantly amid the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in some shortages.

Justin Bates, who is the CEO of Ontario Pharmacists Association, told CP24 on Monday that there has been a 500 per cent increase in the number of people looking to book an appointment to get their flu shots at pharmacies compared to last year.

He said that the “unprecedented demand” is a “good problem to have” but has left many pharmacies scrambling to get their hands on enough dosages to continue offering the flu shot.

“There are very complex supply chain challenges and right now pharmacies have run out of the vaccine,” he said. “I know that Public Health Ontario is liaising with the Public Health Agency of Canada to try to get more doses into Ontario from the federal stockpile and that is going to be really critical because right now we have seen 4.8 million of the 5.1 million ordered already distributed out to the providers.”

Province has said shortages will be ‘temporary’

It should be noted that the province has maintained that any supply issues with the flu shot will be “temporary” and result from potential gaps in the delivery schedule.

That said in an interview with CP24 earlier on Monday, infectious disease specialist Dr. Issac Bogoch did express skepticism about whether everyone who wants to get the flu shot will be able to.

“I think at the end of the day, I’m still not entirely sure if everybody who wants a flu shot will get a flu shot. I certainly hope that’s the case but I think it’s clearly going to take time and a little bit of patience,” he said. “We’re not seeing influenza just yet but that means we should still be getting our flu shots and preparing for it and I think this is time to continue to check in with the pharmacies in your area, with your primary care provider because it looks like we’re seeing a staggered approach. We are seeing boluses of flu shots coming in and they’re being administered, they run out and a week later they get more, they’re administered, they run out.”

In addition to the shortages experienced by pharmacies, demand for appointments to get the flu shot at Toronto Public Health clinics has also been high.

Those clinics are now booked up until at least Dec. 8.

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COVID-19 cases in Canada remain on troubling course, Tam says – CTV News

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Canada remains on a troubling path for new COVID-19 infections as case counts continue to mount, the country’s top doctor said Saturday.

The most recent infection rates indicate Canada is on track to hit as many as 10,000 new cases a day by next month, Dr. Theresa Tam said.

“If we continue on the current pace, our longer range models continue to forecast significant increases in daily case counts and estimate that there could be up to 10,000 cases reported daily by mid-December,” Tam said in a written statement.

“Right now, we have a window of opportunity to act collectively together with public health authorities to bring the infection rate down to a safer trajectory.”

Canada is currently recording caseloads at about half that level, with the most recent seven-day average standing at 5,335 between Nov. 20 and Nov. 26.

Tam said Canada is also averaging 76 deaths a day and more than 2,100 people in hospital.

People 80 years and older are experiencing Canada’s highest COVID-19 death rate, and there are now more and larger outbreaks in long-term care facilities, hospitals, group living settings, Indigenous communities and remote areas, she said.

“Those developments are deeply concerning as they put countless Canadians at risk of life-threatening illness, cause serious disruptions to health services and present significant challenges for areas not adequately equipped to manage complex medical emergencies,” Tam said.

Her assessment came as case counts continued to soar in numerous provinces.

Quebec set a new single-day record with 1,480 new infections Saturday as the provincial death toll crossed the 7,000 threshold.

Alberta also broke its own record, reporting 1,731 new cases of the virus on Saturday. It also counted five new deaths.

Ontario logged case numbers just shy of Friday’s one-day record as it reported 1,822 new diagnoses in the past 24 hours.

Case numbers also jumped sharply in Manitoba, where officials recorded 487 new infections and 10 new deaths.

Among those who died was a boy under the age of 10, officials said, though they offered no other details.

Saskatchewan reported 197 COVID-19 cases and one death Saturday.

The province ordered the suspension of team sports earlier this week until Dec. 17 after confirmed COVID-19 cases among several minor and recreational hockey teams.

The Saskatchewan suspension applies to hockey and curling leagues and dance studios.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority posted notices Saturday of COVID-19 exposure risks at curling and recreation centres at Christopher Lake and Shellbrook. Those curling or socializing at either of the two facilities last month must self-isolate for 14 days, the health authority said.

In British Columbia, Fraser Health announced the closure of an elementary school in Surrey after confirming 16 COVID-19 cases.

Newton Elementary School will close for two weeks, said Fraser Health.

B.C. reported a daily record of 911 COVID-19 cases Friday. The province will update its numbers Monday.

People must continue to practise physical distancing, frequent hand washing and staying home as much as possible, said a newly appointed member of B.C. Premier John Horgan’s cabinet.

“I just think it’s important for us to be thoughtful and caring, but at the same time it’s critical that people follow the rules because it’s vital to be able to keep our schools open and keep as many of our business open as possible,” said Ravi Kahlon, whose ministry includes economic recovery.

Figures from New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador show more modest increases of four and two cases, respectively.

Prince Edward Island reported two new COVID-19 cases, but they involved young males aged 10 and 19.

There were 14 new cases in Nova Scotia and five COVID-19 cases in Nunavut.

Tam redoubled her calls for Canadians to heed public health advice, limit their social interactions and practice physical distancing in a bid to bring surging case counts under control.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2020.

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'Everything is looking good' for COVID-19 vaccine, but steps remain: uOttawa infectious disease specialist – Newstalk 1010 (iHeartRadio)

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A University of Ottawa infectious disease specialist suggests the prime minister’s goal to vaccinate a majority of Canadians by next September “may be reasonable” given there are several COVID-19 vaccine candidates.

Dr. Earl Brown says that while everything is looking good for a COVID-19 vaccine, Health Canada has not approved a vaccine for use in Canada yet.

As the premiers urge the federal government to provide timelines on when a COVID-19 vaccine will be available to the provinces, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his target is to immunize more than half of all Canadians by September, 2021.

“That may be optimistic, but that may be reasonable given that we’ve got three vaccine candidates,” said Dr. Brown, a former member of the H1N1 vaccine task group in Canada.

“The fact is there is no vaccine; a vaccine is a medicine, which is licenced for use in Canada on humans and it would have a drug number.  Nothing like that exists. Now, maybe it will in a week, two weeks, a month, a few weeks.”

During an interview on CTV News at Six with anchor Stefan Keyes, Dr. Brown said there are three very “promising” vaccine candidates, based on the press releases and published phase one and two trials.

“Everything is looking good, but you really have to know that you’ve got a vaccine that’s passed muster, and we don’t know that yet. So we can’t count our chickens before they hatch,” said Dr. Brown, noting officials are demanding timelines for delivery before the vaccine receives approval.

“You really want to know you’ve got something before you go committing yourself. Those are the realities of being careful before you move, and we’re doing the minimum care – which is it has to be passing Health Canada review and get approved.”

Health Canada says Canada’s first COVID-19 vaccine could be approved before Christmas. Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma said the review of the Pfizer vaccine candidate is the most advanced.

This week, the federal government suggested three million Canadians could receive the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of March.

“If we can vaccinate three million health care workers, long-term care facility residents alone between now and the end of March, that’s a tremendous feat,” said Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Abdu Sharkawy, during an interview with CTV News Ottawa.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches told Newstalk 580 CFRA this week that the top priority for the COVID-19 vaccine in Ottawa when it arrives is preventing hospitalizations and deaths, especially in long-term care homes.

VACCINE PRODUCTION CAPACITY IN CANADA

Prime Minister Trudeau told reporters that Canada no longer has production capacity to produce life-saving vaccines.

Appearing on CTV’s Your Morning this week, Dr. Brown said Canadian administrations simply took their “eye off the ball” for vaccine production.

Keyes asked Brown if it’s too late for Canada to get back in the game for a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Well it’s too late on the short term for this pandemic, but we got to get back in to the game. We have to have a readiness to respond to a pandemic with a vaccine,” said Brown Saturday evening

“So our vaccine facilities have essentially dwindled in Canada and so we aren’t able to make a set of vaccine. We should be able to make enough vaccine to give everybody two shots –76 million doses thereabouts. So we should plan to be able to do that within a year with some standing facility.”

Brown adds it’s very tough to do anything financially with a vaccine facility.

“It’s very hard to sell a vaccine or make money on vaccines if that’s what you want to do in the meantime between pandemics.”

Brown says Canada will need to come up with a plan for the future.

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COVID-19 cases in Canada remain on troubling course, Tam says, amid rising numbers – StCatharinesStandard.ca

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Canada remains on a troubling path for new COVID-19 infections as case counts continue to mount, the country’s top doctor said Saturday.

The most recent infection rates indicate Canada is on track to hit as many as 10,000 new cases a day by next month, Dr. Theresa Tam said.

“If we continue on the current pace, our longer range models continue to forecast significant increases in daily case counts and estimate that there could be up to 10,000 cases reported daily by mid-December,” Tam said in a written statement.

“Right now, we have a window of opportunity to act collectively together with public health authorities to bring the infection rate down to a safer trajectory.”

Canada is currently recording caseloads at about half that level, with the most recent seven-day average standing at 5,335 between Nov. 20 and Nov. 26.

Tam said Canada is also averaging 76 deaths a day and more than 2,100 people in hospital.

People 80 years and older are experiencing Canada’s highest COVID-19 death rate, and there are now more and larger outbreaks in long-term care facilities, hospitals, group living settings, Indigenous communities and remote areas, she said.

“Those developments are deeply concerning as they put countless Canadians at risk of life-threatening illness, cause serious disruptions to health services and present significant challenges for areas not adequately equipped to manage complex medical emergencies,” Tam said.

Her assessment came as case counts continued to soar in numerous provinces.

Quebec set a new single-day record with 1,480 new infections Saturday as the provincial death toll crossed the 7,000 threshold.

Alberta also broke its own record, reporting 1,731 new cases of the virus on Saturday. It also counted five new deaths.

Ontario logged case numbers just shy of Friday’s one-day record as it reported 1,822 new diagnoses in the past 24 hours.

Case numbers also jumped sharply in Manitoba, where officials recorded 487 new infections and 10 new deaths.

Among those who died was a boy under the age of 10, officials said, though they offered no other details.

Saskatchewan reported 197 COVID-19 cases and one death Saturday.

The province ordered the suspension of team sports earlier this week until Dec. 17 after confirmed COVID-19 cases among several minor and recreational hockey teams.

The Saskatchewan suspension applies to hockey and curling leagues and dance studios.

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The Saskatchewan Health Authority posted notices Saturday of COVID-19 exposure risks at curling and recreation centres at Christopher Lake and Shellbrook. Those curling or socializing at either of the two facilities last month must self-isolate for 14 days, the health authority said.

In British Columbia, Fraser Health announced the closure of an elementary school in Surrey after confirming 16 COVID-19 cases.

Newton Elementary School will close for two weeks, said Fraser Health.

B.C. reported a daily record of 911 COVID-19 cases Friday. The province will update its numbers Monday.

People must continue to practise physical distancing, frequent hand washing and staying home as much as possible, said a newly appointed member of B.C. Premier John Horgan’s cabinet.

“I just think it’s important for us to be thoughtful and caring, but at the same time it’s critical that people follow the rules because it’s vital to be able to keep our schools open and keep as many of our business open as possible,” said Ravi Kahlon, whose ministry includes economic recovery.

Figures from New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador show more modest increases of four and two cases, respectively.

Prince Edward Island reported two new COVID-19 cases, but they involved young males aged 10 and 19.

There were 14 new cases in Nova Scotia and five COVID-19 cases in Nunavut.

Tam redoubled her calls for Canadians to heed public health advice, limit their social interactions and practice physical distancing in a bid to bring surging case counts under control.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2020.

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