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Ontario family doctors want clear plan on their future COVID-19 vaccination role – Vancouver Is Awesome



TORONTO — Family doctors are awaiting clear details of Ontario’s plan to ramp up their involvement in the COVID-19 vaccination effort. 

Provincial officials said this week that they hope to include more family care practitioners in the immunization campaign in an effort to reach residents still without first doses and slowly shift away from mass clinics.

Dr. Liz Muggah, president of the Ontario College of Family Physicians, said her professional group only heard about that plan when it was publicly announced on Thursday. She said the college welcomed the news and wants to see a clear plan from the government soon. 

“Our question would be, which is what we said in the beginning, what’s the plan,” Muggah said in an interview. “Let’s lay this out so that we know what’s coming, and when, and can get ready.”

The Ottawa-based physician has been among the select family doctors able to offer COVID-19 vaccines in office. Government figures note that 700 primary care sites have been administering the shots, far fewer than the thousands of pharmacies and other clinics Ontarians have had access to.

A spokeswoman for Health Minister Christine Elliott said primary care has played a critical role in Ontario’s vaccine rollout so far, adding public health units can now request more vaccine supply for primary care settings. She also said the health units have allocated vaccine to different clinic types based on local needs. 

“Recognizing the vital role that primary care settings play in a patient’s health care journey, we are working with our primary care partners to take on additional vaccination capacity as Ontario’s vaccine rollout continues, allowing us to reach even more Ontarians,” Alexandra Hilkene said in a statement.

Muggah’s college and other professional doctors’ groups have been pushing for more involvement in the vaccine rollout since it began, arguing their personal relationships with patients can help reach those who are hesitant about the process or unsure how to make appointments.

Now that Ontario’s first-dose adult vaccination rate has hovered at just under 80 per cent for several weeks, the province has also started to cite the patient-doctor relationship as a powerful tool to reach the holdouts.

Ontario hasn’t set a target for how many doctors it hopes to have administering the shots, or a timeline for their involvement. Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said this week she envisions eventually having COVID-19 shots largely handled in doctors’ offices and pharmacies, much like annual flu shots. 

The Ontario Medical Association, another group representing doctors in the province, said this week that it’s working with the government “to ensure that family physicians and pediatricians continue to be as involved as much as possible in the vaccine rollout,” including a push for more mRNA shots to be administered from doctors’ offices.

Informal polling by the Ontario College of Family Physicians has indicated at least 75 per cent of members want to be vaccinating against COVID-19, Muggah said. Many doctors are working in mass vaccine clinics and in other venues, but they contend they can do more to help with in-office vaccinations.

“My sense is definitely that there is a huge untapped potential in family medicine that we haven’t taken advantage of,” she said. 

Doctors are already skilled in vaccinations, though Muggah said the process would involve some preparation like training on the provincial vaccine registry, implementing infection control measures and planning clinics for patients.

“All of those things are absolutely doable, so I think the main issue really is going to be getting a supply to us,” she said. 

The province’s gradual shift in vaccine strategy will be welcomed by the many physicians who have been frustrated and saddened by their lack of involvement so far, she added. 

Dr. Alain-Remi Lajeunesse is in the process of trying to secure COVID-19 vaccines for his Ottawa office.

About 80 per cent of his patients are now vaccinated against the virus, but Lajeunesse said he wants to be able to offer shots on the spot when he meets with patients, some of whom are convinced in one-on-one meetings to get vaccinated, but don’t follow through after they leave.

“That opportunity to vaccinate them was kind of missed,” the family doctor said. “Having that vaccine in our fridge so that we can do the counseling, they agree, and then we do the vaccine, that would be the ideal situation, so that’s what we’re trying to work towards.”

Lajeunesse said he’s been frustrated at having to wait on the sidelines throughout much of the immunization drive. 

“It would be nice to have the government say overtly, ‘we want you as partners,'” Lajeunesse said. “It’s better late than never.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2021.

Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press

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



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



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'

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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Businesses, tourism sector worried about impact of local virus restrictions in Central Okanagan – Kelowna News –



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Madison Erhardt

Come to the Central Okanagan, but only if you’re fully vaccinated.

That is the message from the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) and Tourism Kelowna after the provincial government announced new local steps Wednesday to try and lower COVID-19 cases.

A new regional mask policy was announced by Interior Health after 240 new cases of the virus were identified among Central Okanagan residents in the last week.

Along with the indoor mask mandate, the province is now discouraging non-essential travel into and out of the Central Okanagan for people who are not immunized.

TOTA says after an extremely tough 15 months they are concerned about how it might affect the industry, but she says it is a necessary step.

‘’I think the bigger concern is that if we don’t address it now and get things under control we will continue to lose ground. We have done so well up until now. I think that doing this to make sure that we nip it in the bud and we get a good rest of the summer and fall is very important,” said senior vice president Ellen Walker-Matthews.

Tourism Kelowna president and CEO Lisanne Ballantyne says the change will likely impact frontline staff the most.

“We know especially with having dealt with the haze and smoke recently that this is going to have an impact on our tourism businesses. Primarily it is going to be our frontline staff I’m afraid. These are the folks who are dealing with the public every day, and because this health order is only for the Central Okanagan, many travellers don’t realize that it is in effect and it is the frontline staff that have to do the education.”

The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce says the regional mandate has also caused some confusion amongst businesses.

“Earlier this year we were loud and clear along with chambers across the Interior when our numbers were extremely low we petitioned the province to do regional decision making because the rates were so high in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley they introduced the circuit breaker,” said Kelowna Chamber of Commerce president Dan Rogers.

“When they did that it had a massive impact on our businesses even though our rates were low. The line we heard from the province at that time was all of our decisions would be made province-wide and there won’t be any regionally based decision making. Now they have flip-flopped,” Rogers added.

The Interior’s vaccination rate is slightly lower than the provincial average, with 60 per cent of eligible people having received both doses, compared to B.C.’s 63.2 per cent.

Interior Health did not announce an end date for the new measure but says it will be in place for “at least 14 days.

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