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Manitoba does not expect to immunize everyone who wants COVID-vaccine shots this year – CBC.ca

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Manitoba does not expect to immunize everyone in the province against COVID-19 this year.

An immunization roll-out plan published by the province projects about 70 per cent of Manitobans will receive two doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines before 2021 comes to a close.

Both vaccines require two doses.

The projection is based on “how much vaccine may be available in 2021 and the percentage of Manitoba’s eligible population that may be immunized over that time,” according to the two-page document.

The document does not project when in 2022 all Manitobans who want to be immunized will have access to two shots of either vaccine.

The roll-out plan was published late Wednesday afternoon, hours after Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister claimed everyone in the province could be vaccinated by the end of March if sufficient vaccine supplies materialized.

Dr. Joss Reimer, who’s overseeing the vaccination effort, declined to corroborate that claim.

The roll-out plan also states Manitoba intends to fully immunize the equivalent of 3.5 per cent of the population against COVID-19 by the end of February with the Pfizer vaccine.

The plan calls for 98,400 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to be doled out by March 1. That’s equivalent to 49,200 complete immunizations.

The reach that goal, the province expects to ramp up Pfizer vaccinations from about 7,000 shots this week to 16,500 doses a week by Feb. 22, according to the plan.

It also foresees a slowdown of Pfizer vaccinations during the final week of February, when the province exhausts the initial shipments of the Pfizer formulation.

There is no projection in the document for Moderna vaccinations in the coming weeks.

The province plans to immunize 9,834 personal-care-home residents with the Moderna vaccine by the first week of March. That will require nearly 20,000 doses.

It is also shipping 5,300 Moderna doses to First Nations, starting today.

First Nations health authorities are prioritizing health-care workers at remote and isolated communities, personal-care-home residents, anyone 60 or over in remote and isolated communities and anyone 70 or over in all communities.

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Hospitalizations from COVID-19 in B.C. fall to level last seen in November – Squamish Chief

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The trajectory of serious COVID-19 infections in B.C. continues to point in the right direction, as the number of hospitalizations, and intensive care unit (ICU) patients, continues to fall.

The province now has 320 people hospitalized with the virus that has spawned a global pandemic. That is nine fewer than yesterday, and the lowest total since November 30.

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The number of hospital patients in ICU is similarly falling, as it is down by four overnight, to 66, which is the lowest total since November 26, according to government data.

Unfortunately 14 more people died overnight from complications related to the virus, pushing the death toll in B.C. to 1,104 since the first death was recorded on March 9.

New cases continue to pile up, with 500 people newly diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past day, and only 465 people newly diagnosed as having recovered. Testing also ramped up substantially, compared with yesterday, as 10,437 tests were given. That pushes the positive-test rate down to 4.7%, compared with 9.22% yesterday.

More than 89%, or 55,564 individuals out of the 62,412 people identified in B.C. as having contracted the virus, are deemed to have recovered.

The vast majority of the 4,345 people actively infected with the virus have been told to self-isolate, while 6,905 people are under active health monitoring from officials because they are known to have been in contact with others who have tested positive for the virus.

Here is a regional breakdown of where the 500 new cases were identified:
• 125 people in Vancouver Coastal Health (25%);
• 216 people in Fraser Health (43.2%);
• 32 in Island Health (6.4%);
• 91 in Interior Health (18.2%);
• 35 in Northern Health (7%); and
• one person who resides outside the province.

Despite fewer doses of vaccine expected to be delivered in later January than first expected, there were 5,756 vaccinations completed in the past day, for a total of 98,125 since the first dose was administered on December 16. 

”We have had two new health-care facility outbreaks: at Villa Cathay in the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, and Acropolis Manor in the Northern Health Authority,” provincial health officer Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a joint statement.

“The outbreaks at Guildford Seniors Village and Maple Ridge Seniors Village in the Fraser Health Authority, as well as Mountainview Village and Village by the Station in the Interior Health Authority, are now over.”

They added that there has been one new community outbreak at the Surrey Pretrial Services Centre.

“Our COVID-19 curve is trending in the right direction, and we want to keep that going – to push our curve down, which in turn, will allow us to safely ease restrictions,” they said.

The nine hospitals identified as having active COVID-19 outbreaks are:
• Burnaby Hospital in Burnaby;
• Cariboo Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake;
• Chilliwack General Hospital in Chilliwack;
• Mount St. Joseph’s Hospital in Vancouver;
• Ridge Meadows Hospital in Maple Ridge;
• St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver;
• Surrey Memorial Hospital in Surrey;
• Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver; and
• University Hospital of Northern B.C. in Prince George.

The nine active outbreaks at seniors’ living facilities in Vancouver Coastal Health are at:
• Arbutus Care Centre in Vancouver;
• Braddan Private Hospital in Vancouver;
• Fraserview Intermediate Care Lodge in Richmond;
• German Canadian Benevolent Society Home in Vancouver;
• Hilltop House in Squamish;
• Little Mountain Place in Vancouver;
• Minoru Residence in Richmond;
• Renfrew Care Centre in Vancouver;
• Sunrise of Vancouver in Vancouver; and
• Villa Cathay in Vancouver.

The 23 active outbreaks at seniors’ living facilities in Fraser Health are at:
• Avalon Gardens in Langley;
• Brookside Lodge in Surrey;
• Eagle Ridge Manor in Port Moody;
• Evergreen Baptist Care Society in White Rock;
• Fleetwood Villa in Surrey;
• George Derby Centre in Burnaby;
• Good Samaritan Delta View Care Centre in Delta;
• Hilton Villa Seniors Community in Surrey;
• Kin Village in Tsawwassen;
• Kin Village West Court in Tsawwassen;
• Madison Care Centre in Coquitlam;
• Mayfair Seniors Living Care in Abbotsford;
• Menno Home in Abbotsford;
• Morgan Place Care Facility in Surrey
• Nicola Lodge in Port Coquitlam;
• Peace Arch Hospital Foundation Lodge in White Rock;
• Queen’s Park Care Centre in New Westminster;
• Rideau Retirement Residence in Burnaby;
• Royal City Manor in New Westminster;
• St. Michael’s Centre Extended Care in Burnaby;
• Suncreek Village in Surrey;
• The Harrison at Elim Village in Surrey; and
• Waterford Retirement Residence in Delta.

The two active outbreaks at a seniors’ living facilities in Northern Health are at Jubilee Lodge in Prince George, and Acropolis Manor in Prince Rupert.

The nine active outbreaks at seniors’ living facilities in Interior Health are at:
• Brocklehurst Gemstone Care Centre in Kamloops;
• Creekside Landing in Vernon;
• Heritage Retirement Residence in West Kelowna;
• Heritage Square in Vernon;
• Noric House in Vernon;
• Sunnybank Retirement Home in Oliver; and
• Williams Lake Seniors Village in Williams Lake.

In Island Health, there are two seniors’ facilities with an active outbreak of COVID-19:
• Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo; and
• Hart House in Victoria.

gkorstrom@biv.com

@GlenKorstrom
 

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Nova Scotia's freedom of information online service reopens after lengthy redesign – HalifaxToday.ca

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HALIFAX — Nova Scotia has restored an online portal through which the public can submit freedom of information requests, almost three years after the site was shut down because of a security breach.

The new site was launched Thursday and allows people to track the progress of requests, pay fees and receive responses.

The site was shut down in March 2018 after a 19-year-old downloaded documents from the site to his home computer.

About 7,000 documents were accessed over two days, affecting 700 people.

The young man wasn’t charged because he told officers he had used a widely available software to search for documents about a teachers’ labour dispute, and it became clear to authorities that the basic firewalls weren’t in place.

The province says it has updated and improved security features on the site to prevent further breaches.

Paula Arab, Nova Scotia’s Internal Services minister, said the province has a five-year contract worth $760,000 with two companies to operate the site.

Arab said it took time to set up the portal because the project was split into several parts. One portion involved receiving requests while another involved disclosing documents. Added security measures also required time, she said.

“We wanted to do as many security tests as we could and to come up with the right solutions, and we took seriously two reports given to us following the (security) breach,” Arab said.

The new access to information application site can be found at iaprequest.novascotia.ca.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Pregnant women advised to weigh risks of getting COVID vaccine, talk with their doctor – CBC.ca

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A doctor at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax says pregnant women should talk with their doctors and weigh the risks of getting the COVID-19 vaccine given the lack of data available right now. 

Pregnant women were excluded from initial clinical trials for the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, which means there’s no information about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine for them. 

Dr. Scott Halperin, director of the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology, said there’s no blanket recommendation telling Canadian women who are pregnant or breastfeeding not to get immunized, but “theoretical risks” should be considered.

“It’s really a case-by-case basis, individual decision of that risk,” he told CBC’s Information Morning on Thursday. “If somebody is not seen coming into contact with people with COVID-19 and they’re pregnant, they might be able to afford to wait several months and get the vaccine as soon as they deliver.”

Women working on the front lines of the pandemic may have different considerations, he added.

Information Morning – NS7:40COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant?

Not everyone is recommended for getting the COVID-19 vaccines, including pregnant people. Immunologist Dr. Scott Halperin tells us why. 7:40

“If somebody is in a position where they are much more likely to be exposed, then that individual risk might be more from the COVID-19 and a woman might choose to get the vaccine during pregnancy, and we’re seeing both of those situations and both of those different types of decisions,” Halperin said.

Early research released in December from the University of British Columbia shows that pregnant women are at higher risk of being hospitalized if they do get the virus compared to non-pregnant women in the same age group.

Researchers cautioned that their study is preliminary and only included data from cases in B.C., Alberta and Ontario.

Data could be available later this year

Halperin said at this point there are no red flags that the COVID vaccines themselves are harmful to a mother and baby.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization, which provides advice to the federal government, recommends that approved COVID-19 vaccines may be provided to people excluded from clinical trials, “if a risk assessment deems that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the potential risks for the individual.”

“The biggest risk is if somebody, a woman, had a fever with the vaccine, which you can get and if it were a high fever, fever itself can be harmful, not all the time, but occasionally to the fetus, so it’s that type of risk that we’re looking at,” Halperin said. 

That could be a small risk compared to the risk of getting COVID-19, he added.

Dr. Scott Halperin is director of the Canadian Center for Vaccinology and head of pediatric infectious diseases at the IWK Health Centre. (Brooklyn Currie/CBC)

Halperin estimates it could still be six to eight months before data about how pregnant and breastfeeding women respond to the vaccine is available.

“There are women who are getting the vaccine and we’ll be collecting data from women who do receive the vaccine in order to see how they respond to the vaccine and to ensure that it is safe,” he said. 

Halperin advises women trying to get pregnant to take a similar approach and weigh the risks.

“If one gets the vaccine, one should wait about a month or six weeks before getting pregnant … even theoretically there wouldn’t be lasting risks so one doesn’t have to not get pregnant for a year, just for a matter of weeks.” 

He said at one time pregnant women weren’t involved in clinical trials at all over concerns about harming the fetus. 

“That’s no longer considered to be ethically sound because we need to use vaccines in pregnant women, and therefore we need to get data from clinical trials from pregnant women, but they’re still excluded from the initial studies,” Halperin said. 

Studies involving pregnant women and children are only done once the vaccines are deemed safe for the general public, he said.

More vaccines on the horizon

People who are immunocompromised also weren’t part of the initial clinical trials for the vaccines, and Halperin said it’s a good idea for them to talk with their health-care providers about the risks of getting immunized. 

“Right now, there are very few exclusions to getting vaccinated,” he said. “People who have had anaphylactic reactions to vaccines in the past … should take care with immunizing.”

Halperin said more vaccines will be available to Nova Scotians in the months ahead. The U.K. was the first country to approve the new AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine and Halperin expects Canada won’t be far behind.

“Hopefully within a month or so, we’ll have maybe four vaccines and further ones a couple of months beyond that.”

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