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Ontario hopes family doctors can reach those unvaccinated against COVID-19 – Yahoo News Canada

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Going door to door to vaccinate people against COVID-19 — such as this effort with residents of the San Romanoway apartments in Toronto — is one of the strategies that public health units are using to reach as many unvaccinated people as possible. (Evan Mitsui/CBC – image credit)

With Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccination coverage showing signs of levelling off, the province is enlisting help from family doctors.

About 78 per cent of Ontario adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, but that figure has increased by just three percentage points in the past three weeks.

To vaccinate as much of the rest of the population as possible, the health-care community widely considers the participation of family doctors critical.

That’s because many unvaccinated people have questions they need answered by a trusted medical source, or don’t want to go to a mass vaccination site or pharmacy to get a shot, says Dr. Liz Muggah, president of the Ontario College of Family Physicians.

“That combination that family doctors offer: the trusted person who knows their history, and a place that they feel comfortable in receiving vaccine, those two things together really mean that we have a really important role to play to help move the dial toward getting to herd immunity,” said Muggah in an interview Wednesday.

Supplied/OCFPSupplied/OCFP

Supplied/OCFP

While the provincial Health Ministry was unable to provide any specific figures, it is clear family doctors’ practices account for only a fraction of the 16.1 million doses administered in Ontario so far.

“From the very beginning, family doctors across the province have been saying, ‘Please give us vaccines. We’re expert at this. We want to do this. Our patients are telling us that they want to be vaccinated in office,'” Muggah said.

“To this point, we have not had the supply of vaccines in our offices to address the need that we’re seeing from our patients. So I definitely hope as we head into this last stretch of the vaccination that more vaccines come to us.”

Ontario is not alone in having given family doctors little in the way of vaccine supply.

Manitoba has made vaccines available at more than 50 family doctor clinics. In Alberta, despite promises that family physicians could be administering thousands of shots every day from their offices, the province’s pilot project expanded to just 60 practices.

Other provinces have almost entirely stayed away from providing vaccine doses to family doctors, a situation that was prompted in part by initial concern about meeting the cold-storage requirements for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that accounts for the bulk of Canada’s shots.

Alan Habbick/CBCAlan Habbick/CBC

Alan Habbick/CBC

Ontario’s family physicians and other primary-care providers have been administering COVID-19 vaccines in about 700 primary care and community settings, said Alexandra Hilkene, spokesperson for Health Minister Christine Elliott. (There are more than 15,000 family doctors in Ontario, some of whom have participated in giving shots at mass vaccination clinics.)

“The onboarding of additional primary care settings to administer vaccines continues and is ongoing by public health units,” said Hilkene in a statement provided to CBC News. “Primary-care providers will play an even larger role in vaccinating Ontarians as we continue to vaccinate harder to reach patients and combat vaccine hesitancy.”

The bulk of family doctors in Ontario are to receive later this month a list of all their patients who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, whether with one or two doses. The provincial agency Ontario Health is asking physicians to reach out to their patients whose names are not on the list.

The idea is that the family doctor can help overcome hesitancy by answering questions that unvaccinated patients still have about the COVID vaccines, said Dr. David Kaplan, chief of clinical quality at Ontario Health.

“Who better than primary care providers that have had lifelong relationships with these patients to build that confidence?” he said in an interview.

Ontario age groups – vaccination coverage by age group

Kaplan, who also practices as a family physician in North York, says talking to patients about their immunizations concerns — from childhood diseases such as measles to diseases that affect seniors such as shingles — is something family doctors do every day.

“We’re used to having these conversations with some of our patients that are a little more hesitant and really build their confidence in knowing why it’s important to be vaccinated, what to expect,” he said. “I think that’s really important for many patients. They’re just worried about what’s going to happen.”

In Ontario, the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates are among the youngest eligible age groups. About 67 per cent of those aged 18 to 29 have had at least one dose, along with 59 per cent of youth aged 12 to 17, according to Health Ministry figures published Wednesday.

Family doctors say a common fear raised by younger patients is that the vaccines could affect their fertility, although there’s no evidence that’s the case.

Muggah, who practices at the Bruyère Family Health Team in Ottawa, says she tries to ask every patient she encounters — regardless of the nature of the appointment — whether they’ve had a shot.

Submitted/OMASubmitted/OMA

Submitted/OMA

“If they haven’t been vaccinated, to me, it really is a conversation that has to be approached with great empathy and some curiosity, ” she said, “You can’t assume why somebody may not be ready to get vaccinated.”

Muggah says that combating vaccine hesitancy “isn’t just about giving somebody a whole bunch of information. It really requires meeting that person where they’re at, digging into what their reasons might be, and addressing them.”

Family doctors will be particularly important in ensuring vaccination coverage among the 12 to 17 age group, said Dr. Adam Kassam, president of the Ontario Medical Association.

“We encourage anyone who is still on the fence or still having questions to reach out to their family doctors, reach out to their pediatricians to get the best information to make an informed decision,” he said.

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Ottawa Public Health will take vaccines to businesses and groups to increase coverage – Ottawa Citizen

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Community organizations, faith leaders and employers who have a group of people who may benefit from a mobile clinic are asked to contact OPH at 613-691-5505.

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In an effort to reach people who have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19, Ottawa Public Health is preparing to send mobile vaccination teams to workplaces, places of worship and community groups on request.

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The program is intended to help reduce barriers for people who have not yet received the vaccine “by working with community leaders to provide comfortable, convenient and easily accessible options for vaccination,” the city said in a release. “This is just one more initiative to help ensure that anyone 12 years of age and older in Ottawa who wants the COVID-19 vaccine can get vaccinated.”

Sixty-six per cent of Ottawa residents over the age of 12 are now fully vaccinated and 83 per cent have received at least one dose.

But the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, said this week that the more transmissible Delta variant will continue to threaten the province until 90 per cent of eligible residents are fully vaccinated.

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While Ottawa leads the province when it comes to vaccination rates of teens between 12 and 17, many health experts have said the final 10-20 per cent of the population will be the hardest to vaccinate because of barriers and hesitancy.

The Ottawa mobile vaccination program announced Thursday aims to address that.

Community organizations, faith leaders and employers who have a group of people who may benefit from a mobile clinic are asked to contact OPH at 613-691-5505.

There are still many appointments available through the provincial booking site (https://covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine/ ) for anyone who wants a vaccine. Many pharmacies and family physicians also have vaccines available.

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B.C. sees highest number of COVID-19 cases in a month – The Globe and Mail

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British Columbia’s COVID-19 cases are creeping up again with the province reporting the highest numbers in a month.

Health officials reported 89 cases of COVID-19 Thursday, figures last seen in mid-June.

In a news release, officials say the total number of active infections in B.C. is 781 and there have been no new deaths.

There are 53 people are in hospital with 15 in intensive care.

Health officials say there are two outbreaks in the Fraser Health region, in an acute care facility and a long-term home.

Officials say more than 80 per cent of those eligible have received their first vaccine dose, while 57 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

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Vancouver Islands adds 3 new COVID-19 cases | CTV News – CTV News VI

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VICTORIA —
B.C. health officials have identified three new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Island region Thursday.

The cases were among 89 new cases found across the province over the past 24 hours.

There are currently 781 active cases of COVID-19 across the province, including 18 active cases in the Island Health region, according to the Ministry of Health.

Island Health identified the locations of 17 active cases Thursday, including 12 in the South Island, three in the Central Island and two in the North Island.

Since the pandemic began, 148,730 cases of COVID-19 have been reported across the province, including 5,203 found in the Vancouver Island region.

No new deaths related to the disease were reported in B.C. over the past 24 hours.

Since the pandemic began, 1,763 people have died of COVID-19 in B.C., including 41 people in the Island Health region.

According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, there are currently two people in hospital for treatment of the disease in the Island Health region, but no one in critical care.

As of Thursday, 80.2 per cent of people aged 12 and older had received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in B.C., while 56.9 per cent of eligible people had received two doses.

In total, B.C. has administered 6,361,627 doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

Earlier Thursday, Island Health announced that a new “Vax Van” would be making stops across the island to offer first-dose vaccinations.

Details on the Vax Van, including its upcoming schedule, can be found here.

Backstory:

CTV News Vancouver Island reports the daily COVID-19 case counts as reported by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix, which are based on BCCDC data. There may be a discrepancy between the daily case counts reported by the BCCDC and Island Health.

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