Ontario seniors living in nursing homes will be the first in Canada to receive public coverage for a new vaccine against respiratory syncytial virus, the province said Thursday as it unveiled plans for a fall immunization blitz that also features updated shots for COVID and the flu.
Until this year, there were no approved vaccines to mitigate the toll of RSV, a pathogen that is most dangerous to infants and the elderly. Health Canada approved the first RSV vaccine for people 60 and older last month.
“I think it’s smart that we’re prioritizing people living in long-term care settings,” said Samir Sinha, the director of geriatrics at the Mount Sinai and University Health Network hospitals. “This would be a population that is not only highly vulnerable but probably would be less likely to be able to afford to pay for the vaccine itself.”
For now, Ontario is only planning to cover the RSV vaccine for people living in long-term care homes and some retirement homes for high-risk seniors, but the shot will be available in pharmacies across the country for those who have private drug insurance or are able to pay the $230 out-of-pocket cost, according to GSK, the company that makes the shot, called Arexvy.
RSV came to broad public attention last year as one of the viral illnesses that, along with influenza and COVID, caused a “tripledemic” that pummelled hospitals.
Kieran Moore, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, said officials tracking hospital use last year found that, on average, 180 seniors were in Ontario hospitals every day with RSV during the height of viral illness season in December and January.
“That was almost the same burden as influenza,” Dr. Moore said in an interview Thursday. “That really convinced me of the impact of this.”
On the COVID front, Dr. Moore said he expects 350,000 doses of a reformulated shot from Moderna to be distributed to high-risk patients and settings – such as nursing homes and hospitals – by the end of September. The jabs should be available to people at lower risk of serious COVID illness beginning in mid-October, Dr. Moore said.
The tweaked Moderna shot, which targets a member of the Omicron family called XBB.1.5., was approved by Health Canada on Tuesday; the regulator is expected to approve a revised Pfizer-BioNTech shot shortly.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends that everyone who hasn’t had a COVID shot or infection in the last six months get a jab with the reformulated shot this fall.
Dr. Moore said Ontario’s goal is to offer people their COVID and flu shots at the same time.
The province has ordered 6.1 million doses of various types of influenza vaccines, including a high-dose version for seniors, as well as 5.7 million doses of COVID vaccines. Rapid antigen tests for COVID will still be available through public-health offices and, as of this month, health care providers such as doctors can order them to share with patients for free.
Dr. Moore said that although the provincial health system is girding itself for another tough respiratory virus season, there are reasons to believe this year won’t be as punishing as the last. This year’s flu vaccine, for instance, looks like it will provide good coverage, based on the experience of the southern hemisphere.
“We anticipate a good match this year for influenza and the two strains that we anticipate circulating, which is great,” Dr. Moore said.
The Key Role of Trustworthy Babysitters in Balancing Work and Family Life
Are you a busy parent in constant pursuit of the elusive work-life balance? We know firsthand how overwhelming and challenging it can be to juggle professional commitments while still having quality time with your children.
That’s why we’re here to discuss an essential ingredient that unlocks the secret to harmony: trustworthy babysitters.
What Characteristics Parents Should Look for When Choosing a Babysitter?
Parents should look for a few key characteristics when choosing a babysitter. A good babysitter should be patient, responsible, and reliable. They should also be comfortable with children and have prior experience caring for them.
Besides, the babysitter must be able to communicate effectively and follow directions well. The babysitter should be someone the parents can trust to care for their children in their absence.
Strategies for Parents to Establish Reasonable Anticipations
As a parent, finding babysitters you can trust to care for your children is vital. However, it is also important to establish reasonable expectations for your babysitters.
Some tips for establishing reasonable expectations for babysitters include:
- Set clear expectations: Sit down with your babysitter to discuss bedtime routines, dietary preferences, and any necessary medications.
- Allow flexibility: While clarity is vital, also provide room for your babysitter to use their judgment and feel comfortable in their role.
- Trust their expertise: Once expectations are set, trust your babysitter’s judgment as a professional caregiver to avoid undermining their authority and creating discomfort in their role.
Determining a Fair Payment Plan
Determine your babysitting budget, factoring in your income and family size, while researching local rates. Account for the babysitter’s experience and qualifications, giving preference to those recommended by trusted sources.
Engage in open negotiations with your chosen babysitter. This aims to find a mutually agreeable arrangement that accommodates both your budget and their needs.
Tips on Finding Trustworthy and Compassionate Caregivers
When seeking a caregiver for your child, to ensure you find the right fit:
- Seek recommendations from trusted sources such as friends, family, and neighbours who may have suggestions for caregivers in your area.
- Conduct online research to review feedback and check references to gauge candidates’ qualifications and experience.
- Request references and contact details from the caregivers’ previous employers or families they have worked with.
- Trust your instincts and ensure you feel at ease with the caregiver, ensuring they are someone you can entrust with your child’s well-being.
Being able to trust your babysitter means you can have peace of mind knowing your child is safe and cared for.
Spending some time researching online reviews or asking friends and family for recommendations will help you find the perfect fit so you can feel more at ease while juggling work commitments in today’s hectic world.
Facility-wide COVID-19 outbreak at Bethammi Nursing Home
THUNDER BAY — St. Joseph’s Care Group and the Thunder Bay District Health Unit have declared a facility-wide COVID-19 outbreak at Bethammi Nursing Home, part of the St. Joseph’s Heritage complex on Carrie Street near Red River Road.
The respiratory outbreak at the 112-bed facility was declared effective Sept. 15 but only announced publicly on Monday.
No details were provided with regard to the number of people affected to date.
Restrictions are now in place for admissions, transfers, discharges, social activities and visitation until further notice.
Alberta COVID hospitalizations up 73% since July: health minister
Three weeks after the start of the school year, Alberta’s health minister provided an update on the spread of airborne viruses in the province.
Adriana LaGrange also said more information about flu and next-generation COVID-19 vaccines will soon be released.
“Now that we will be spending more time indoors, we need to make doubly sure we are following proper hygiene protocols like handwashing and staying home when sick,” LaGrange said. “It also means respecting those who choose to wear a mask.”
Global News previously reported that influenza vaccines will be available on Oct. 16 with the new Moderna vaccine formulated to target the XBB.1.5 variant likely to be available at around the same time. On Sept. 12, Health Canada approved the use of the Moderna vaccine.
“More information on immunizations against respiratory viruses including influenza and COVID-19 will be available shortly,” the health minister said.
LaGrange said there have been 28 cases of influenza and five lab-confirmed cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) since Aug. 28.
“This is consistent activity for this time of the year,” the health minister said in a statement.
The end of August or the beginning of September has typically marked the beginning of flu season for provincial health authorities.
LaGrange also provided an update on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the province.
From Aug. 28 to Sept. 8, there were a total 92 new hospitalizations and three ICU admissions, bringing the total to 417 in hospital and seven in ICU, a 73 per cent increase of COVID hospitalizations from the last reported info.
On July 24 – the last update to the province’s COVID data dashboard – there were only 242 in hospital.
“Sadly, five Albertans died during that period due to COVID-19,” LaGrange said.
LaGrange said the reporting dashboard is being refreshed to include RSV, influenza and COVID-19 data, work that was originally expected to be completed on Aug. 30. The latest data on the province’s influenza statistics dashboard is dated July 22.
“This work is currently underway and will be available in the coming weeks,” LaGrange said.
She said data for the dates between July 24 and Aug. 27 will be available when the new dashboard goes online.
Amid more hospitals continent-wide reinstating masking requirements in the face of increased hospitalizations, the health minister made no mention of any such moves for Alberta hospitals. Acute care COVID-19 outbreaks in Alberta jumped from Sept. 5 to 12, with 146 per cent more healthcare workers and 55 per cent more patients testing positive for COVID.
LaGrange stressed the “collective responsibility” to prevent the spread of airborne viruses like COVID and influenza.
“As a mother and grandmother, I understand the anxiety that comes with sending your children back to school. I want to reassure you that Alberta’s government has the health and well-being of all young Albertans top of mind,” the health minister said.
–with files from Meghan Cobb, Global News
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