The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit is trailing the majority of the 33 other districts in Ontario when it comes to vaccination rates but officials are confident the mobile vaccination clinics held on a retrofitted transit bus can boost those numbers toward the 90 per cent goal.
According to COVaxON, the province’s vaccination reporting system, 78 per cent of eligible North Bay–Parry Sound residents age 12 and older have had two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. That’s tied for 23rd out of 34 health units in Ontario.
The Health Unit also reports 84 per cent of eligible residents 12 and older in the district have received at least one dose, tied for 25th of 34 health units.
The recent introduction of the proof of vaccination program for Ontarians to gain entry to non-essential settings such as restaurants, fitness clubs, and cinemas is acknowledged by health officials as a means to encourage those who are not fully vaccinated to do so.
There was an uptick in vaccinations in the weeks following the announcement of the vaccine certificate program in Ontario. And, a boost in vaccinations followed locally, as well, in mid-September, as the Health Unit reported an increase, particularly among those aged 29 and younger. The Health Unit reported then a 128 per cent increase in first doses week over week.
The goal locally and province-wide is to have 90 per cent of the population vaccinated with first and second doses. As of Monday, that leaves 6,646 first and 14,680 second shots required. The Health Unit’s dashboard reports 692 doses administered over the weekend. It should be noted hundreds of third doses have been administered to eligible segments of the population over the past two weeks.
In North Bay–Parry Sound, the 30-39, 18-29 and 12-17 age groups all sit at less than two-thirds fully vaccinated, although the 12-17 category was not eligible for the vaccine for months following the initial local roll-out.
The Health Unit reports since June 1, 10 per cent of local positive cases have been detected in fully vaccinated people. Ontario reports 86 per cent of COVID-19 patients in ICUs are unvaccinated, while 72 per cent in hospitals (but not the ICU) are unvaccinated.
The Health Unit has consistently advocated for more people to roll up their sleeves and has gone to great lengths to achieve that goal by providing clinics in long-term care and retirement communities, mass immunization opportunities at Memorial Gardens, clinics focused on members of the vulnerable population, and now the mobile vaccination clinics that visit many of the underserved towns in the district.
Andrea McLellan, Director of COVID-19 Immunization Strategy, previously spoke about possible reasons for vaccine hesitancy.
“It may be a lack of confidence in immunizations overall, it may be a personal choice they are making at this time and waiting to receive further information,” she said, noting there are excellent resources out there for those who are hesitant. “We are providing as much information to the public as we can — our website holds a wealth of information, the Ontario.ca website has a lot of information about the vaccine, as does Public Health Ontario.”
“Some people need a familiar health care provider to really reassure them that the vaccine is right for them,” Dr. Carol Zimbalatti added, encouraging people to reach out to their trusted health care providers for guidance. “Definitely, primary care offices have the information available to counsel their patients.”
The Health Unit will continue to roll out the vaccine through mobile clinics. McLellan says some of the feedback from the public indicated people who weren’t thinking of getting their shot did so thanks to the convenience of the bus set-up.
“We believe the mobile bus has been exceptionally successful,” McLellan said last week. “We’ve done over 300 at a couple of clinics, 150-plus at other clinics, 50 to 60 in smaller communities. The bus has been helpful in getting our numbers up. A lot of people are getting their first doses. And, we’ve accommodated a lot of people eligible for their third doses.”
India celebrates 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses with song and dance
India celebrated the milestone of administering one billion COVID-19 vaccine doses on Thursday, with the government promoting the achievement in song and video even as a recent drop in inoculations worries healthcare providers.
After a slow beginning in the middle of January, India’s immunisation campaign has covered three-quarters of its 944 million adults with at least one dose but only 31% with two. The government wants all adults to get vaccinated this year.
“India scripts history,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter. “We are witnessing the triumph of Indian science, enterprise and collective spirit of (1.3 billion) Indians.”
Modi marked the occasion with a visit to a government hospital in New Delhi. The health ministry announced musical and other programmes across the country, and special illuminations of national monuments including a colonial-era jail.
Nearly 90% of the vaccines administered in India have come from the Serum Institute of India (SII), which produces a licensed version of the AstraZeneca drug. SII has more than tripled its capacity since April and can now produce 220 million vaccine doses a month.
SII has also slowly resumed exports for the first time since April, when the government stopped all overseas sales to meet domestic demand as infections rose dramatically.
The World Health Organization (WHO), which relies heavily on India for supplies to its global vaccine-sharing platform COVAX, congratulated the country for reaching the landmark.
“India’s progress must be viewed in the context of the country’s commendable commitment and efforts to ensure that these life-saving vaccines are accessible globally,” said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director WHO South-East Asia.
India has so far reported 34.1 million COVID-19 cases and more than 452,000 deaths, most during a second wave of infections of the Delta variant that surged through the country between April and May.
A “sizeable number https://www.reuters.com/article/health-coronavirus-india/many-indians-skipping-second-covid-shot-despite-record-vaccine-stocks-idUSL4N2RF2G3” of people in India have not taken their second dose by the due date despite adequate supplies, the health ministry said on Tuesday, as new infections fell to their lowest since early March.
Daily shots have averaged 5 million this month, a fifth of September’s peak, though states are sitting on record stocks of more than 100 million as domestic output of the AstraZeneca vaccine soars.
Despite the current low number of infections, ministry officials have been urging people to get vaccinated fast, especially as the ongoing festival season means family gatherings and mass shopping, raising the risk of a new wave of infections.
(Reporting by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)
U.S. coronavirus vaccine donations reach 200 million doses
The United States, under pressure to share its coronavirus vaccine supply with the rest of the world, has now donated 200 million doses to more than 100 countries, the White House announced on Thursday.
President Joe Biden has faced some criticism from other world leaders for offering vaccine booster shots in the United States at a time when many people around the world have not received their first shot.
In recent weeks, the United States has stepped up its donations. Biden told Kenya PresidentUhuru Kenyatta last week https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/us-donates-17-million-jj-doses-african-union-2021-10-14 that the United States will make a one-time donation of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to the African Union.
“As of today, the United States has successfully donated and delivered 200 million COVID-19 vaccines to more than 100 countries around the world,” the White House said in a statement to mark the milestone.
The statement said the United States and the international COVAX vaccine-sharing programme would follow through over the next year on commitments to donate more than 1 billion doses to needy countries.
“These vaccines will help save lives, protect livelihoods, and heal economies currently battered by this pandemic,” the White House said.
(Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Karishma Singh)
More needed to prevent deaths from climate-change driven heat waves, fires: report – The Reminder
OTTAWA — A new report examining the health impacts of climate change says more Canadians than ever are facing serious health risks from heat waves and wildfires, prompting warnings from doctors that we need to do more to adapt to the reality of a warmer planet.
The annual Lancet Countdown study looks at more than three dozen markers for human health impacts of climate change globally.
“This year we saw people suffering intense heat waves, deadly floods and wildfires,” said lead author Marina Romanello, a biochemist at London’s Institute for Global Health.
“These are grim warnings that for every day that we delay our response to climate change, the situation gets more critical.”
In Canada, the authors note, the heat dome that descended on British Columbia and parts of the Prairies in June and July “would have been almost impossible without human-caused climate change.”
That heat wave lasted several weeks and saw the town of Lytton, B.C., destroyed by a fire a day after it recorded a temperature of 49.6 C, the highest temperature ever seen in Canada.
The Lancet study says that heat wave was responsible for at least 570 deaths in Canada, and hundreds more in the United States.
Across Canada, the risk of death from extreme heat for Canada’s seniors rose more than 50 per cent in the last four years, compared with the years 2000 to 2004. Exposures to wildfires grew almost 20 per cent in that time, but not uniformly, with Indigenous Peoples at much higher risk.
First Nations people living on a reserve are 33 times more likely to be forced to evacuate due to a forest fire than people living off reserve, the Lancet report said.
The authors also said that in 2020, heat caused the loss of more than 22 million hours of potential labour in Canada, harming human health and productivity at the same time.
Globally, climate change left almost one-fifth of the world’s land surface in extreme drought in 2020. Between 1950 and 1999, that value never exceeded 13 per cent. The resulting impact on crops saw a decrease in production of rice, soybeans, wheat and maize of between two and six per cent.
Dr. Courtney Howard, an emergency room physician in Yellowknife and past president of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, helped write the Canadian briefing note out of the Lancet Countdown’s global findings.
She said this year the focus was more heavily on the need for adapting to the fact that climate change isn’t just real, it’s already hurting us.
“So how are we going to get each other through these heat waves and these wildfire episodes in a way that’s as healthy as possible?”
The Canadian briefing note lays out several policy requests, including more green space in urban areas to offset the impact of heat waves, and a national strategy for adaptation to climate change that takes into account the serious harm to human health.
The authors are also highly critical of the federal government for allowing itself to be heavily influenced by lobbying from the oil and gas industry. They said in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, fossil fuel industries and associations met with federal officials 1,224 times, an average of 4.5 meetings every day.
Comparatively, they say environment groups met with federal officials 303 times.
“Energy transition policy must be developed without such excessive industry pressure,” the report said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 20, 2021.
Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
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