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
Quebec COVID-19 hospitalizations rising as new variants gaining ground
MONTREAL — Quebec is seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations driven by new Omicron subvariants that account for about 75 per cent of infections, the province’s public health director said Wednesday.
Dr. Luc Boileau said the subvariants, such as BA2.12.1, BA.5 and BA.4, appear to be more transmissible than previous strains but not necessarily more severe. The rise in cases was “expected,” though it came earlier than authorities had thought, he said, adding that the number of new infections should continue to rise in the coming days or weeks before declining.
Boileau said the province doesn’t plan on reimposing any broad-level public health restrictions, but he recommended that people who are over 65 or medically vulnerable take precautions such as wearing a mask. He was firm in his advice against a new provincewide masking order, insisting that such a measure was not “realistic” or necessary at this point.
“We’re not at all on a path to reimpose population-level measures such as mask-wearing, or other measures that needed to be taken in the last two years,” he said.
“We’re not there, and we’re not heading in that direction with the current variants.”
He said people who are over the age of 60, who are immunocompromised or who have chronic illnesses should seek a second booster shot if they haven’t had one or if their last shot was more than three months ago. As well, he said those who want to wear masks should be “encouraged” to do so, especially in crowded places.
His update came as COVID-19 hospitalizations rose by 34 in the previous 24 hours, after a 113-patient rise the day before. There were 1,260 people in hospital with COVID-19 in Quebec, including 35 in intensive care. Health officials also reported four more deaths associated with the novel coronavirus.
Dr. Don Vinh of the McGill University Health Centre says Quebec is facing a “perfect storm” of factors that include the emergence of new variants, waning immunity from vaccination or previous infection, and the removal of public health restrictions.
The new Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, he said in an interview Tuesday, appear to be gaining ground and finding vulnerable people to infect, especially since the mutations seem to be better able to evade immunity compared with previous strains.
“You put the two together, the new variants and waning immunity from either infection, immunization or a hybrid, and what happens is you have a renewed pool of susceptible people with an emerging variant,” he said.
The rise in hospitalizations, he added, comes at a time when the health system is least prepared to handle it.
Hospital workers at “all levels” are overwhelmed, he said, from paramedics and ambulance drivers to ER staff and the community and home care workers who need to be present to care for frail people leaving hospital.
COVID-19 is also putting increased pressure on the system by forcing sick health-care workers to stay home at a time when they’re most needed, he said. “This a catastrophic, systemic failure being unmasked and perhaps even exacerbated by unmitigated community transmission.”
On Wednesday, Boileau said he was concerned with the impact the increase in cases will have on the system, adding that authorities were working with hospitals to readjust services when necessary. He said, however, that he didn’t expect the new rise in cases to get “very, very high” and that the numbers should begin to decline in the next few weeks.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2022.
Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press
Canada extends COVID-19 border measures until Sept. 30, including ArriveCan app
OTTAWA — The federal government will extend current COVID-19 public health measures for travellers entering Canada, including the use of the ArriveCan app, until at least Sept. 30.
In a release Wednesday, the Public Health Agency of Canada also said it will continue the pause of mandatory random testing for fully vaccinated travellers at all airports until mid-July.
It first announced the pause on June 11 and said in the release that it’s allowing airports to focus on streamlining their operations.
The public health agency said it’s moving forward with plans to relocate COVID-19 testing for air travellers outside of airports to select test provider stores, pharmacies or by virtual appointment.
Mandatory random testing is to continue at land border points of entry with no changes.
The release added that travellers who are not fully vaccinated and don’t have a valid exemption must continue to test on Day 1 and Day 8 of their 14-day quarantine.
“As we move into the next phase of our COVID-19 response, it is important to remember that the pandemic is not over. We must continue to do all that we can to keep ourselves and others safe from the virus,” said Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos in a statement.
He also urged people to remain up to date with the recommended vaccinations to ensure they are adequately protected against infection, transmission and severe complications.
“As we have said all along, Canada’s border measures will remain flexible and adaptable, guided by science and prudence.”
All travellers will have to continue to use the ArriveCan app or website to provide their travel information within 72 hours before their arrival in Canada or before boarding a cruise ship destined for the country. The government said 95 per cent of land and air travellers are using the app and it’s taking steps to enhance compliance.
The government also said moving testing outside of airports will allow Canada to adjust to increased traveller volumes while still being able to monitor and quickly respond to new variants of concern or changes to the epidemiological situation.
It said border testing has been essential in helping Canada slow the spread of the virus, as data from the tests are used to understand the current level and trends of importation of COVID-19 into the country.
The testing program also allows for detection and identification of new COVID-19 variants of concern, it said.
Tourism groups and border-community mayors and MPs have called on the government to ease restrictions and scrap the ArriveCan app, saying the measures are limiting cross-border travel.
Transport Minister Randy Boissonnault said the government is deeply invested in growing Canada’s visitor economy.
“From our reputation as a safe travel destination to our world-class attractions and wide-open spaces, Canada has it all and we are ready to welcome back domestic and international tourists, while prioritizing their safety and well-being.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2022.
The Canadian Press
Western researchers use MRI to learn cause of long-COVID symptoms – BlackburnNews.com
Western researchers use MRI to learn cause of long-COVID symptoms
June 29, 2022 7:30am
A study led by researchers at Western University has revealed the cause of long-COVID symptoms.
New data published by Western professor Grace Parraga and the LIVECOVIDFREE study, based out of five centres in Ontario, is the largest MRI study of patients with long-COVID. The term long-COVID refers to symptoms of brain fog, breathlessness, fatigue and feeling limited while doing everyday things, often lasting weeks and months post-infection.
This is the first study to show a potential cause of long-COVID, which has helped physicians in the study target treatment for the patients.
“I think it is always a conundrum when someone has symptoms, but you can’t identify the problem,” said Parraga, a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Lung Imaging to Transform Outcomes at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry. “If you can’t identify the problem, you can’t identify solutions.”
By using MRI imaging with inhaled xenon gas, researchers have identified that the symptoms are caused by microscopic abnormalities that affect how oxygen is exchanged from the lungs to the red blood cells.
Researchers used the technology to watch the function of the 300-500 million tiny alveolar sacs, which are about 1/5 of a millimetre in diameter and responsible for bringing oxygen to the blood.
“What we saw on the MRI was that the transition of the oxygen into the red blood cells was depressed in these symptomatic patients who had had COVID-19, compared to healthy volunteers,” Parraga said.
Further CT scans pointed to ‘abnormal trimming’ of the vascular tree, which indicated an impact on the tiny blood vessels that deliver red blood cells to the alveoli to be oxygenated.
Parraga said the study showed no difference in severity between patients who were hospitalized with COVID-19 and those who recovered without hospitalization. She said this is an important finding as the latest wave of COVID-19 has affected many people who did not receive hospital-based care.
To conduct the study, researchers recruited patients suspected to be suffering from long-COVID from London Health Sciences Centre’s Urgent COVID-19 Care Clinic and St. Joseph’s Health Care London’s Post-Acute COVID-19 Program. Some participants experienced persistent shortness of breath more than six weeks post-infection, while others were still symptomatic after 35 weeks.
One of the participants is Alex Kopacz, a London-native and Canadian Olympic bobsleigh gold-medalist, who called his experience with COVID-19 “harrowing” and believed the virus would not affect him long-term as he is a young athlete.
“I was on oxygen for almost two months after COVID, and it took me almost three months to get to a place where I could go for a walk without gasping for air,” Kopacz said. “The take home message for me is that we have to remember that this virus can have very serious long-term consequences, which are not trivial.”
Researchers are now conducting a one-year follow-up to better understand these results.
The study was done in collaboration with researchers outside of London at Lakehead University, McMaster University, Toronto Metropolitan University and Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto.
Memorial service held for RCMP Const. Heidi Stevenson, killed in N.S. mass shooting
Explosive devices found in a vehicle connected to B.C. bank robbers killed
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Europe kicks off vaccination programs | All media content | DW | 27.12.2020 – Deutsche Welle
Sports16 hours ago
The Ultimate Guide to Playing Blackjack Online: Tips & Tricks
Science18 hours ago
2022-06-28 | NYSE:LLAP | Press Release | Terran Orbital Corporation – Stockhouse
Investment16 hours ago
News14 hours ago
Economic Impact Of The Canadian Gaming Industry
News18 hours ago
Halifax woman fights renoviction amid pressure tactics by landlord
Economy22 hours ago
Transitioning to a net-zero economy | Waterloo News – The Iron Warrior
News21 hours ago
Moving to Canada? What you need to know for a smooth transition – Canada Immigration News
Tech1 hour ago
The Xiaomi 12S Ultra Smartphone Will Use a Full Sony 1-Inch Sensor – PetaPixel