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'Now we're in the hard slog': Combating vaccine hesitancy as first-dose uptake slows in Alberta – CTV Edmonton

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EDMONTON —
Nearly 75 per cent of eligible Albertans have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, but the province is having trouble getting the rest to follow suit.

First-dose uptake has been dropping since May, with Sunday marking the daily lowest amount administered since February.

“With any sort of campaign, you’re going to see an initial push and big uptake, because it’s novelty. Now we’re in the hard slog,” said Dr. Cheri Nijssen-Jordan, co-lead of the AHS COVID Vaccine Task Force.

“This is not surprising from my perspective that we would have to work harder for that last 10-20 per cent, especially in some of the age groups.”

Albertans between 12 and 18 are one group the task force is hoping to see vaccinated before school begins in September.

The other age groups “lagging” behind the others is the 20-29 and 30-39 groups, according to Nijssen-Jordan.

Messaging being sent out to encourage and inform people about vaccines is being tailored to those groups. The task force has also been working with universities and the Hutterian Safety Council to encourage vaccine uptake.

“We are using temporary clinics, mobile clinics, drive-thru clinics, advertising campaigns and much more,” said Tom McMillan with Alberta Health. “There are more than 1,400 pharmacies offering the vaccine, along with hundreds of AHS clinics and physicians’ offices.”

There are more than 280,000 vaccine appointments booked for the next 14 days, added McMillan.

“We are a national leader in second doses… we have higher immunization rates than the United States, Germany, Italy or France, among others,” said McMillan.

Experts reiterated the need to get a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. More than 60 per cent of eligible Albertans have received their second dose.

“In order to develop enough immunity in our population, especially with some of these variants, we really need to get closer to that 90 per cent or, if possible, over,” said Nijssen-Jordan.

“Come in to the clinic, we have lots of capacity, we have lots of vaccine… they’re all safe and effective.”

Experts call the reasons some have not gotten vaccinated complex, including lack of access, lack of trust or religious beliefs.

“There is no one-size fits all solution to vaccine hesitancy, and to imagine that there is one is stupidity,” said Dr. Ubaka Ogbogu, a health law professor at the University of Alberta.

Data from the province shows that vaccination rates in rural Alberta are lower. The Edmonton and Calgary areas are sitting at the 60-80 per cent rate for first doses.

The government is actively encouraging Albertans to get vaccinated, but experts worry the current public health policy and messaging is counterproductive.

One public health expert found a recent video tweeted out by the premiere “frustrating.”

“It really tried to give the impression it (the pandemic) is over,” said Tim Caulfield. “From a public health policy perspective I think it could be really damaging.”

Three weeks after lifting public health restrictions, Alberta’s COVID-19 case count remains low. Active cases did rise over the weekend, which hasn’t happened since May.

Variants of concern, including Delta, account for more than half the active cases in the province. The Delta variant is the dominant strain in the U.S. and the U.K., where cases and deaths are on the rise.

“It’s important that we all realize that we’re trying to protect each other,” said Nijssen-Jordan. “It is important that everyone gets vaccinated.”

Over 5,000,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Alberta, according to provincial data.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Dan Grummett

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COVID-19 in B.C.: Over 200 new cases and over 1000 active cases; Fraser Health shifts to vaccine hubs; and more – The Georgia Straight

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Today’s total and new case numbers are provisional but they are concerning.

Both new and active cases continue to rise and hit new highs in recent weeks, with the bulk of both of them still in Interior Health—which continues to have more new and active cases than both Fraser and Vancovuer Coastal Health combined.

Meanwhile, like the last heat wave, some immunization clinics may be affected by the high temperatures and at least one is already being relocated.

According to the B.C. Health Ministry, the following numbers for total and new cases are provisional due to a delayed data refresh.

For now, the B.C. Health Ministry is reporting 204 new COVID-19 cases today.

Currently, there are 1,055 active cases, which is an increase of 146 cases since yesterday.

The new and active cases include:

  • 107 new cases in Interior Health, with 600 total active cases (an increase of 97 cases since yesterday);
  • 58 new cases in Fraser Health, with 241 total active cases (33 more cases than yesterday);
  • 23 new cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, with 139 total active cases (three more cases than yesterday);
  • 14 new cases in Island Health, with 51 total active cases (10 more cases than yesterday);
  • two new cases in Northern Health, with 19 total active cases (three more cases than yesterday);
  • no new cases of people from outside of Canada, with five total active cases (same number as yesterday).

At the moment, 51 individuals are in hospital (four more people than yesterday), and 20 of those patients are in intensive care units (same number as yesterday).

Thankfully, no new COVID-19-related deaths have been reported, which leaves the overall total at 1,771 people who have died during the pandemic.

With 54 recoveries since yesterday, a cumulative total of 146,810 people have now recovered.

During the pandemic, B.C. has recorded a cumulative total of 149,648 cases.

The forecast heat wave may cause some clinics to be relocated again, as they were during the previous heat wave in June.

In preparation for the expected high temperatures this weekend, Island Health announced today that it will move the Eagle Ridge immunization clinic to the air-conditioned Victoria Conference Centre (720 Douglas Street, Victoria) tomorrow (July 30).

Also tomorrow, Island Health will hold a pop-up clinic from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at Starlight Stadium (1089 Langford Parkway) in Langford, during the game between Victoria’s Pacific FC and Calgary’s Cavalry FC.

Meanwhile, Fraser Health announced today that it has now administered over two million vaccine doses—80 percent of eligible people in the region have received at least one dose, and over 60 percent have received their second dose.

Consequently, as of tomorrow (July 29), Fraser Health is transitioning from a network of immunization clinics to establishing four main hubs at existing clinics at:

  • Ag-Rec Centre (32470 Haida Drive) in Abbotsford (for both COVID-19 testing and immunizations);
  • Poirier Forum (618 Poirier Street) in Coqutilam;
  • Guildford Rec Centre (15105 105th Avenue) in Surrey;
  • North Delta Rec Centre (11415 84th Avenue) in Delta.

Immunization will also continue to be available at COVID-19 testing and immunization centres in Hope, Chilliwack, Mission, Langley, South Delta, South Surrey, Surrey 66, Coquitlam, and Burnaby. In addition, Fraser Health will continue to hold pop-up and mobile clinics, outreach clinics, and community initiatives (such as beachside clinics) to ensure easy access to immunizations.

The following clinics, however, will be closed on the dates listed below:

  • July 28: South Surrey Rec Centre and Chuck Bailey Rec Centre;
  • August 1: Abbotsford test collection centre at the University of the Fraser Valley will close and testing will relocate to Abbotsford Ag Rec;
  • August 7: Agassiz Agricultural Hall, Langley Events Centre, Anvil Centre, and Christine Sinclair Community Centre;
  • August 14: Chilliwack Mall, Hope Legion, Cloverdale Rec Centre, Surrey North, and Haney Place Mall;
  • August 30: Mamele’awt Community Indigenous Centre, Stó:lō Service Agency, Fraser River Indigenous Society, Mission Friendship Centre, Fraser Region Aboriginal Friendship Centre.

As part of its effort to increase vaccinations amid the recently declared outbreak in the Central Okanagan, Interior Health will hold pop-up immunization clinics from 3 to 7 p.m. from Friday (July 30) to Wednesday (August 4) at the Kelowna Yacht Club (1370 Water Street) in Kelowna, and vaccinations are available for eligible drop-in visitors.

In the ongoing provincial immunization program so far, B.C. has administered 6,732,309 doses of Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca vaccines.

As of today, 81 percent (3,753,057) of eligible people 12 and older in B.C. have received their first dose and 64.1 percent (2,971,793) have received their second dose.

In addition, 81.9 percent (3,543,503) of all eligible adults in B.C. have received their first dose and 66.8 percent (2,890,948) have received their second dose.

None of the five regional health authorities declared any new healthcare or community outbreaks, or listed any new business closures or public exposure events.

Currently, there are two active healthcare outbreaks, both in longterm care facilities: Holyrood Manor (Fraser Health) and Nelson Jubilee Manor (Interior Health).

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No changes expected as COVID-19 cases surge in Central Okanagan: Kelowna airport – Revelstoke Review – Revelstoke Review

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With new restrictions announced specifically for the Central Okanagan today (July 28), the Kelowna International Airport (YLW) said they are not expecting any changes to their operations.

Senior manager of airport operations Phillip Elchitz said that with the COVID-19 safety plan already in place at YLW, they don’t expect much more to change.

Elchitz also said that they’re not expecting much impact on passenger numbers because of the new restrictions.

“YLW is not anticipating a reduction in commercial scheduled flights as a result of the new provincial health guidelines specific to the Central Okanagan,” he said.

“YLW currently has a mandatory mask policy in place for all areas of the Air Terminal Building and on aircrafts due to Transport Canada requirements.”

Individual passenger temperature is also checked just before they go through security as an added safety measure.

Earlier in the afternoon on July 28, the province announced that masks will be mandatory again in indoor public spaces throughout the Central Okanagan, which includes Kelowna, West Kelowna, Peachland and Lake Country.

The province is also discouraging non-essential travel to and from the Central Okanagan, especially for those who are not vaccinated or who don’t have both doses yet.

READ MORE: Mask mandate returns to Central Okanagan, COVID-19 outbreak declared


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twila.amato@blackpress.ca

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Nenshi says lifting Alberta’s remaining COVID-19 health orders is the ‘height of insanity’ – Global News

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The mayor of Calgary says it’s the “height of insanity” that Alberta is moving ahead with removing almost all of its remaining COVID-19 public health orders, even as cases climb in the province.

Alberta has ended isolation requirements for close contacts of people who test positive and contact tracers will no longer notify them of their exposure. The province has also ended asymptomatic testing.

Read more:
Alberta to adjust COVID-19 masking, isolation, testing rules over next month

Further measures are to be eliminated Aug. 16. People who test positive will no longer be required to isolate. Isolation hotels will close as quarantine supports end.

“It is inconceivable to me. It is the height of insanity to say we don’t even know what’s happening,” Nenshi said Thursday.

“It is putting the health of Albertans at risk. To stop contact tracing, to stop testing people for the coronavirus and to become one of the first _ if not the first — jurisdictions in the world to say that people who have tested positive, who are infectious, can just go about their lives.”


Click to play video: 'Majority of Canadians worried about lingering COVID-19 threat, according to poll'



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Majority of Canadians worried about lingering COVID-19 threat, according to poll


Majority of Canadians worried about lingering COVID-19 threat, according to poll

Naheed Nenshi, who was making an announcement at the Calgary airport, said if he were in another jurisdiction he would be thinking hard whether to put travel restrictions on Albertans starting Aug. 16.

“I’m aware of no science that backs this up. It is clear for the last month or so on this file (that) our government has been grasping and struggling, just trying to get some good news out of something,” he said.

Read more:
Amid pushback, Alberta health minister defends plan to ease COVID-19 isolation, masking, testing rules

“To say we don’t want to know who has the coronavirus, we don’t want to track outbreaks. Even the most fervent of the anti-maskers wouldn’t say (to) unleash people who are actually infectious into the population.”

Nenshi said he worries that the decision to lift the health orders is politically motivated and has nothing to do with science at all.

“The only possible explanation here is a political one. It might be that they’ve run out of money, but you know what? Don’t spend $1.5 billion on a pipeline you know isn’t going to get built if you’re running out of money.”

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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