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Number of flu-related deaths in Alberta this season jumps to 6: AHS – Global News



The number of people in the province who died with lab-confirmed influenza rose to six, according to Alberta Health Services’ weekly report released Thursday.

Of the six deaths so far this flu season, three have been in the Edmonton zone, and one each in the south, Calgary and north zones.

READ MORE: Alberta prepares for flu season despite delays in vaccine shipments

The report that was released Dec. 19 includes data from Aug. 25 to Dec. 14.

As of Dec. 14, there have been 595 lab-confirmed cases of Influenza A and 733 lab-confirmed cases of Influenza B across Alberta.

In the same time period, 241 Albertans have been admitted to hospital with lab-confirmed cases of the flu.

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Survey: Nearly 40% of Albertans won’t get flu shot

Survey: Nearly 40% of Albertans won’t get flu shot

So far, 1,249,425 Albertans have received the flu vaccine.

3 flu deaths in Alberta so far this season: AHS

“It’s remarkable to me that even though we know every year people die of the flu, that people still don’t get their flu shot,” said Dr. Jia Hu, AHS Medical Officer of Health for the Calgary Zone.

“When we hear about these deaths, it really is a call to action.”

Hu said the flu vaccine has been quite good at preventing the spread of the influenza B virus, proven to be about 70 per cent effective during the 2018-19 flu season.

AHS said there were 7,698 confirmed cases of influenza in Alberta last year, resulting in 52 deaths. Those numbers were lower than in 2017-18 when there were 9,609 cases and 92 deaths.

Harrowing ordeal for young boy prompts parents to recommend flu shot

Harrowing ordeal for young boy prompts parents to recommend flu shot

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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350 Montreal pharmacies to administer COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March: health minister – The Record (New Westminster)



MONTREAL — Quebec has reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March to help the province get ahead of more contagious virus variants, Health Minister Christian Dube said Tuesday.

Some 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments by March 15 for people as young as 70, he said. The program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses, Dube added. 

The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the B.1.1.7 mutation that was first identified in the United Kingdom, Dube said, adding that pharmacy vaccination was originally scheduled to begin in early April but was sped up.

“We’re afraid,” Dube said about the possibility that the U.K. mutation will cause infections to rise quickly in the province’s biggest city. “We’re afraid the Montreal region is the calm before the storm.”

Quebec reported 588 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday and eight more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. Hospitalizations rose by 16 to 628, and 121 people were in intensive care, a drop of one.

Dube said that while the general COVID-19 curve is dropping, cases of the U.K. variant are rising quickly, especially in the greater Montreal area. The province has confirmed 137 cases of variants, most of which have been identified in Montreal and involve the U.K. mutation. There are also 1,095 presumptive variant cases across Quebec, according to the province’s public health institute.

He said Quebec is screening all its positive Montreal-area COVID-19 tests, and that 12 to 15 per cent are coming back as variants. Vaccination, he said, “is our weapon of massive risk reduction.”

The province began vaccinating older members of the general public at mass vaccine centres on Monday, and administered 16,458 doses that day. COVID-19 vaccinations are open to Quebecers aged 85 and older in outlying regions, while they are open to people as young as 70 in the Montreal area.

Quebec is not the only province that has announced plans to vaccine in pharmacies. 

Health officials in Nova Scotia said Tuesday vaccination rollout plans for this month include the province’s first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23.  

Ontario has said that in the coming months, it plans to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines to a number of settings, including pharmacies. That plan is contingent on the province receiving a greater quantity of vaccine, the Ministry of Health has said.

Benoit Morin, the head of an association representing Quebec pharmacy owners, says close to 1,500 of the group’s 1,900 members have offered to vaccinate. He said the recent flu shot campaign has prepared pharmacists for the demands of giving COVID-19 vaccines because the same distancing and health measures had to be followed.

Morin said pharmacy vaccination could be a good choice for people who can’t or don’t want to go to mass vaccine centres, but he urged people to take the first appointments they can get rather than waiting for pharmacies.

“If I had the chance to get a vaccine today or to wait for the pharmacy, I’d go today,” he said in an interview Tuesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021.

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press

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Ontario reports 958 new coronavirus infections, 17 more deaths – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News



Ontario’s cumulative COVID-19 death toll has surpassed 7,000 on Wednesday, as the province reported less than 1,000 new infections on Wednesday.

Provincial health officials logged 958 new infections and 17 additional deaths today.

Wednesday marks the sixth day of a downward trend in daily case counts.

The province reported 966 cases on Tuesday, 1,023 on Monday, 1,062 on Sunday and 1,185 on Saturday.

The seven-day rolling average is 1,084, unchanged from a week ago.

To date, there have been 7,014 virus-related deaths across the province.

Of the latest fatalities, two are among long-term care home residents.

According to the province’s latest epidemiological summary, 1,090 more people have recovered from the disease, resulting in 10,397 active cases of the virus across the province.

Provincial health officials also reported 10 more lab-confirmed cases of the highly-contagious B.1.1.7 variant of concern, first identified in the United Kingdom.

To date, there have been 552 lab-confirmed cases of B.1.1.7 across the province, 27 cases of the B.1.351 variant, initially discovered in South Africa, and three cases of the P.1 variant, first discovered in Brazil.

Hot spots within the Greater Toronto Area continue to account for the majority of new cases in Ontario.

“Locally, there are 249 new cases in Toronto, 164 in Peel and 92 in York Region,” Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott tweeted.

Elsewhere in the GTA, Halton Region logged 20 cases and Durham Region reported 41 new cases.

Of Ontario’s 34 public health units, eight reported 30 or more new infections on Wednesday.

Ontario labs processed 52,600 tests yesterday, up from nearly 30,800 tests conducted the previous day.

More than 43,100 test specimens are still under investigation.

The increase in testing has contributed to a drop in the province’s positivity rate to 2.4 per cent, compared to 2.9 per cent on Tuesday, according to the Ministry of Health.

The number of people hospitalized across the province dropped slightly compared to a day ago.

There are currently 668 people hospitalized due to the virus in Ontario, down from 677 on Tuesday, according to the Ministry of Health.

However, according to numbers released by local public health units and hospitals there are 867 patients in Ontario hospitals due to COVID-19 infection.

Of those hospitalized, the Ministry of Health said there are 274 in intensive care units and 188 breathing with the help of a ventilator.

There have been more than 303,700 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the province since the virus first emerged last January and 286,352 recoveries.

More than 266,700 people fully vaccinated

To date, 266,710 Ontarians have been fully vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine.

As of 8 p.m. on Tuesday, the province has administered more than 754,400 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, with nearly 27,400 shots yesterday alone.

Two doses of a vaccine is required for full immunization.

On Friday, AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine joined Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna on the list of approved vaccines across the country. Ontario is expected to receive more than 100,000 doses of AstraZeneca on Wednesday.

The numbers used in this story are found in the Ontario Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any city or region may differ slightly from what is reported by the province, because local units report figures at different times.

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COVID-19 vaccine doses will be administered 16 weeks apart in B.C. – Yahoo Canada Shine On



B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry answers questions from the media in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada December 15, 2020. REUTERS/Jennifer Gauthier

Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer in British Columbia, announced Monday that COVID-19 vaccine doses for the Pfzier-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccine will be administered 16 weeks (four months) apart.

“The important thing that we have learned is that these vaccines work, they give a very high level of protection and that protection lasts for many months,” Dr. Henry said.

According to the provincial health officer, evidence shows that about three weeks after a single dose of the vaccines, efficacy is at about 90 per cent.

“We have a great deal of confidence in these vaccine that they are safe and effective,” Dr. Henry said.

This announcement comes as the province outlines its plan for the second phase of vaccine distribution, which will see 400,000 people vaccinated in March and early April.

Dr. Penny Ballem, the executive lead of the B.C. immunization rollout team, indicated the expectation is that the entire provincial population will be able to receive a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by mid- to late July.

Between March 1 and March 15, the following groups can receive a COVID-19 vaccine in B.C.:

  • High-risk individuals living in various congregate settings

  • Health care workers – hospital and community

  • High-risk seniors living in independent living (staff included)

  • High-risk seniors supportive housing client

  • Long-term home support clients and staff

Between March 15 and April 11, the general population 80 and older and Indigenous peoples 65 and older will be vaccinated, with the call-in system launching March 8 to book appointments March 15 and later.

Individuals 80 and older will be separated into three subgroups to help manage call volumes:

  • March 8: Call centre open to British Columbians born in or before 1931 and Indigenous peoples born in or before 1956, with vaccinations staring on March 15

  • March 15: Call centre open to British Columbians born in or before 1936, with vaccinations starting on March 22

  • March 22: Call centre open to British Columbians born in or before 1941, with vaccinations starting on March 29

A family members, friend or support person can call to make an appointment for anyone who is eligible to receive a vaccine.

As the province moves into the the third and fourth phases of vaccine distribution, Dr. Ballem stressed that this timeline will likely change, particularly after B.C. finds out how many doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine they will receive. She indicated that about 70,000 extra first doses will be made available following the extension in the approved time between the first and second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The third phase of the vaccine rollout plan will begin in mid-April and at that point, an online platform will be available for vaccine appointment bookings.

Mass immunization clinics and mobile clinics will also be available for individuals, including people in remote communities.

Dr. Henry revealed that there will be a “limited” amount of choice in terms of what vaccine people in B.C. will receive. She explained that first responders and essential workers will have a choice to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine in the “near term” or they can wait for their age group to receive the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Although the province continues to vaccinate its population, B.C.’s provincial health officer stressed that everyone needs to continue to follow the public health rules in place for “a little bit longer.”

“We are now in those final miles of this marathon,” Dr. Henry said.

“We know there’s an end point in sight and it is weeks and months, not some nebulous grey, next year, maybe. This is where we need to all just focus and support each other a little bit longer.”

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