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Ontario Moving Regions to New Levels in COVID-19 Response Framework – Government of Ontario News

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Ontario Newsroom | Salle de presse de l’Ontario

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COVID-19: Canadian tech companies pledge to give staff time to get vaccinations – CollingwoodToday

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TORONTO — A growing number of Canadian tech businesses are promising to allow their staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19 on company time.

At least 35 tech companies in the country, including SkipTheDishes, Borrowell, and FreshBooks, have signed a new pledge from the Council of Canadian Innovators vowing to let their staff slip out of work to get the shot. 

They say they are keen on giving workers the time because vaccinations are more important than business as usual.

The signatories will try to tackle misinformation by providing reliable information from public health agencies about vaccine safety and efficacy to employees.

They are promising to share information with staff about where, when and how people can be vaccinated, as soon as the shots are available to the wider population.

Canada has so far administered just over 738,000 doses of the vaccine to health-care workers and long-term care home residents.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021.

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B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April – Rossland News

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B.C.’s health ministry expects to start registering four million people for COVID-19 vaccine in March, beginning with the oldest and reaching everyone 18 and older who wants to be immunized by the end of September.

The largest immunization program in the province’s history will set up clinics in 172 B.C. communities, using school gymnasiums, arenas, community halls, church halls and convention centres, as well as mobile clinics for rural areas. Mobile teams will also be dispatched to people who aren’t able to leave their homes, using transit buses and other self-contained vehicles.

Health Minister Adrian Dix says the current phase one of vaccinations has reached most long-term care staff and residents as well as front-line acute care staff with a first dose. Decisions on increasing access and mobility in long-term care homes can be considered in March, he said.

Phase two in February and March continues to target the highest-risk populations, seniors aged 80 and up in communities, hospital staff, community physicians and staff in home support and nursing for seniors.

The mass vaccination starts with phase three from April to June, with people registered for vaccination in five-year increments, starting with the group aged 75 to 79. Phase four, from July to September, moves to people younger than 60, moving down to age 18. Approximately 900,000 of B.C.’s population of more than five million are under 18, and won’t be eligible for vaccine under the current plan.

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With the delay in delivery of Pfizer’s vaccine while it expands its production facility in Belgium, deliveries to Canada are interrupted until February. Despite that, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said seniors aged under 80 in communities are likely to be registered and start receiving vaccine by the end of March.

Dr. Penny Ballem, the former deputy health minister appointed to lead the B.C. vaccine rollout, said the program is designed to be flexible, diverting vaccination to emerging situations like infection clusters in communities, work camps, and other group situations that may need earlier protection.

Details of the registration are still to come. Ballem said a phone call centre will be available to assist seniors who don’t have online access to get registered. For those who miss an appointment, they don’t lose their place in line and will receive priority for rescheduling.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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Front-line workers, chronically ill concerned about low priority in B.C.'s new COVID-19 vaccine plan – CBC.ca

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Sharon Lee-Flynn, 43, says she suffers from a spinal cord injury of more than twenty years and, with impaired pulmonary and cardiovascular systems, she’s “more at risk than a 60-year-old.” 

That’s why the B.C. resident says she doesn’t understand the province’s COVID-19 vaccination plan announced Friday which mainly prioritizes people by age, leaving Lee-Flynn to wait at least another six months before she can be vaccinated. 

Lee-Flynn is one of a large group of vulnerable people who say they should be further up the new vaccination line. The list also includes teachers, first-responders and grocery store workers who are no longer being given higher priority based on their jobs. 

Instead, provincial officials announced that, after health-care staff, Phase 2 of the plan will allow seniors over 80 and Indigenous seniors over 65 to be vaccinated starting in February. Next will be Phase 3 in April which includes seniors 60 to 79. This leaves Lee-Flynn in Phase 4 starting in July when people from 18 to 59 will finally have the chance to be vaccinated. 

“It really seems like patients with true medical compromise have been overlooked in the ‘ethical framework’ put forth,” said Lee-Flynn, adding that she’s had “a very limited, house-arrest type of life” since last March to avoid risking her health.

Henry says schedule could move quicker if more vaccines approved

Premier John Horgan said Friday that he’s received a pile of mail “a couple of inches thick” from advocates asking for higher priority for certain people.

“All of the arguments were very compelling … but the science is pretty clear: age is the dominant determinant factor on severe illness and death.”

Both Horgan and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said other at-risk people could be vaccinated sooner than scheduled if more vaccines are approved by Health Canada.

Russ Grabb, 63, from North Vancouver, says while he’s been diagnosed with a rare, incurable form of leukemia and is severely immunocompromised, he’s prepared to wait the three-to-five months it will for this vaccine rollout because it is still faster than most.

“For us to be getting any kind of vaccination within 10 months to a year is a miracle,” he said, adding that he’s in “really good hands” with his doctors and his family in the meantime.

Firefighters can be exposed to COVID-19 on a daily basis, according to their union. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

First-responders should be prioritized, says firefighters association

Gord Ditchburn, president of the B.C. Professional Fire Fighters Association, says while he’s happy the plan is finally out, he’s disappointed that firefighters, along with other first responders have been bumped down to Phases 3 and 4, under the new plan.

“Our members right across this province are exposed every day while interacting with the public in unknown environments… [This] puts firefighters at risk every day to picking up this virus,” he said.

Similarly, Stephanie Smith, president of the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union, told CBC’s On The Coast Friday that she’s concerned about “thousands of front-line essential workers” who are at high risk of exposure to the virus every day. 

“For us, it’s a question of clarity,” said Smith. “We represent members in corrections, shelters, supportive housing, child care… When with their turn be?”

Teachers are concerned about not having faster access to vaccines, says the B.C. Teachers’ Federation. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

Teachers union wants enhanced protections

Meanwhile, Teri Mooring, president of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, said that she understands many teachers are stressed at not being prioritized, and called for the government to “take immediate action” to improve safety measures in schools, if this continues to be the case.

“We must have a mandatory mask mandate, we must have better physical distancing measures, and we must have ventilation upgrades in our classrooms,” her statement reads.

Horgan said the long-term goal is still to have everyone in the province who wants a vaccination to have it by the end of September.

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