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Pediatricians warn of 'devastating collision course' ahead of flu season – CTV News

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TORONTO —
A group of pediatricians is warning of a “potentially devastating collision course” ahead of the approaching flu season without a mass immunization strategy.

In a new petition launched online Saturday, the pediatrics section of the Ontario Medical Association identified three key factors that could produce challenges this fall: unprecedented interest in flu shots, the decreased capacity of physicians to deliver vaccinations, and the “co-circulating” coronavirus.

Every year, more than 1,000 Canadian children are hospitalized with influenza and hundreds die across North America, the petition says.

“COVID-19 stands to compound that risk and complicate the logistics of getting our communities adequately immunized against flu,” the physicians wrote.

While children appear to be at decreased risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms, much is still unknown, including how the virus interacts with flu.

“Unlike COVID-19, we already have effective flu vaccines, available now.”

OUTDOOR TENTS, SCHOOL CLINICS

The new petition calls for a “better centralized, universal infrastructure” in Ontario for vaccinating the most vulnerable children, those six months to four years of age who typically visit their family doctors and pediatric clinics for the flu shot. Those clinics are not equipped to handle an influx of patients if interest in the flu shot is indeed spiking, says pediatric emergency physician Dr. Dina Kulik.

Kulik told CTVNews.ca that patients have been reaching out to her and her colleagues “in droves” asking for the flu shot, which is typically administered in October and November each year. The flu shot is not yet available in Ontario, where Kulik practices.

Recent surveys support the observation that interest is spiking among parents. In August, a global survey published in The Journal of Pediatrics identified a nearly 16 per cent increase in the number of caregivers that said they plan to get their child vaccinated against the flu. Researchers suggested that “[c]hanges in risk perception due to COVID-19” may be playing a role.

But family doctors and pediatrician clinics aren’t equipped to safely immunize hundreds of patients—as they typically would—during a pandemic, said Kulik. Some of those clinics have also yet to open, she added.

Instead, Kulik suggests there’s a need for “mass immunization programs” that allow for more efficient physical distancing and other health protocols necessary during the COVID-19 crisis. This could be “outdoor tents set up where kids can go through one at a time,” she said, citing research that shows there is less transmission of the virus outdoors. 

Alternatively, immunization programs could be implemented in schools as they have been for Hepatitis B and Human papillomavirus (HPV) among older elementary school children.

“That posses other challenges since some kids are not in school, and other might be sick at the time,” she noted. Other options could be modelling a mass immunization strategy off drive-thru testing sites for COVID-19 where people wouldn’t even have to leave their vehicle.

Asked what support the province will provide concerned pediatricians, Ontario’s Minister of Health Christine Elliott didn’t specify any new initiatives to expand the existing influenza vaccine system outside individual clinics.

“Pharmacies are able to administer flu vaccines, although not to very young children—they will still need to be administered in their physicians’ offices,” said Elliott, adding that physical distancing, masking and hand-washing will help prevent the flu as well. “We are anticipating that if everyone continues to follow the same public health measures as they are to prevent the transmission of COVid, this should help the transmission of flu as well.”

THE AUSTRALIAN COMPARISON

As health experts sound alarm bells for the approaching flu season, one country’s experience has presented a possible upside to COVID-19 “co-circulating” at the same time as influenza: Australia. Every year, Canadian physicians model their flu vaccine predictions off of the Oceanic country, which this year saw record low influenza infection rates. Experts credited lockdowns and other pandemic protocols for stamping out the flu there. 

While this initially may have seemed encouraging for the Canadian flu forecast, says Kulik, the country’s COVID-19 caseloads entering flu season are not similar. Australia, which has recorded nearly 27,000 COVID-19 cases, logged fewer than 100 new cases a day in June and less than 500 a day for much of July and August, the peak of its flu season. Over the last week alone, Canadian health officials have recorded more than 7,000 new cases

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COVID-19 Live Updates: News on coronavirus in Calgary for Oct. 30 – Calgary Herald

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Have you been impacted by COVID-19?

Postmedia is looking to speak with people who may have been impacted by the growing second wave of COVID-19 here in Alberta. Do you have a family member in the Foothills hospital? Did you attend the recent wedding that led to 51 cases? Send us an email at reply@calgaryherald.com to tell us your experience, or send us a message via this form.



Alberta updates symptom checklist for students

Pictured is a classroom in Henry Wise Wood High School that could accommodate a cohort of up to 38 students on Friday, August 28, 2020. Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia
Pictured is a classroom in Henry Wise Wood High School that could accommodate a cohort of up to 38 students on Friday, August 28, 2020. Photo by Azin Ghaffari /Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

Alberta is providing new guidance for parents checking for COVID-19 symptoms before school each morning.

Currently, students are asked to stay home and monitor for 24 hours when they have one of the non-core COVID-19 symptoms of chills, sore throat, runny nose, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, muscle/joint aches, or headache. Starting Monday, the government will be removing runny nose and sore throat from the list of symptoms that require mandatory isolation for school-aged children.

“Based on our data so far, the risk of a child with just one of these symptoms has COVID is even lower if that child is not known to be a close contact of someone with COVID-19,” Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday, emphasizing that this new checklist only applies to those with no known exposure to COVID-19.

Also starting Monday, children with only one of the non-core symptoms should still stay home and monitor for 24 hours, but if they improve, testing is not necessary and they can return to normal activities. If they have two or more symptoms, however, they should stay home until the symptoms improve or they test negative for COVID-19.

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Alberta sets new high in COVID-19 cases among kids and teens, while testing declines – CBC.ca

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The number of cases of COVID-19 among school-aged children in Alberta has again surged to a new high, while the number of kids and teens being tested continues to decline.

Data from Alberta Health shows the number of new daily cases has continued to rise among five- to nine-year-olds and has again shot up, especially, among 10- to 19-year-olds.

Over the past week on record, an average of 85 cases were recorded per day among school-aged kids and teens.

In-person classes resumed at many Alberta schools on Sept. 1, and for several weeks the number of new daily cases had been on the decline.

That changed during the last week in September, when cases started to rise. The trend has continued through October.


Testing numbers among kids and teens surged in late September to unprecedented heights but have since declined.

For the week ending Oct. 28, there were less than 14,000 kids tested. That’s the second-lowest weekly total since classes resumed in September.

Testing volumes have been generally declining, week after week, throughout October. The proportion of positive tests, meanwhile, has been growing.

In late September, less than one case was being detected for every 100 kids tested.

Over the past week, that’s up to 4.3 cases per 100 kids tested.


The previous peak in cases among school-aged kids came in April. At that time, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said about eight or nine per cent of tests were coming back positive.

As of Thursday, Hinshaw said there were active alerts (involving a single case) or outbreaks (two or more cases) at 249 schools. That’s roughly 10 per cent of schools in the province.

There were 730 active cases among those who attend these schools.

“So far, in-school transmission has likely occurred in 87 schools,” Hinshaw said Thursday. “Of these, 48 have seen only one new case occur as a result.”

A total of 111 schools were listed as having outbreaks, including 45 on the watch list, meaning they have five or more cases:

  • City Of Airdrie — Coopers Crossing School.
  • City Of Calgary — Lester B. Pearson High School.
  • City Of Calgary — Nelson Mandela High School.
  • City Of Calgary — Canyon Meadows School.
  • City Of Calgary — Ecole de la Rose Sauvage.
  • City Of Calgary — John G. Diefenbaker High School.
  • City Of Calgary — Calgary French & International School.
  • City Of Calgary — St. Francis High School.
  • City Of Calgary — Bishop McNally High School.
  • City Of Calgary — New Heights School and Learning Services.
  • City Of Calgary — Sir Winston Churchill High School.
  • City Of Edmonton — Archbishop O’Leary.
  • City Of Edmonton — Centre High.
  • City Of Edmonton — Ross Sheppard High School.
  • City Of Edmonton — St. Oscar Romero Catholic High School.
  • City Of Edmonton — McNally School.
  • City Of Edmonton — Vimy Ridge.
  • City Of Edmonton — Highlands School.
  • City Of Edmonton — Cardinal Collins High School Academic Centre.
  • City Of Edmonton — Harry Ainlay School.
  • City Of Edmonton — Queen Elizabeth School.
  • City Of Edmonton — Dr. Donald Massey School.
  • City Of Edmonton — Louis St. Laurent.
  • City Of Edmonton — St. Joseph.
  • City Of Edmonton — Edmonton Islamic Academy.
  • City Of Edmonton — Jasper Place School.
  • City Of Edmonton —M.E. LaZerte School.
  • City Of Edmonton — Headway School Society of Alberta.
  • City Of Edmonton — Aurora School.
  • City Of Edmonton — Steinhauer School.
  • City Of Edmonton — St. Francis Xavier.
  • City Of Edmonton — Tipaskan School.
  • City Of Edmonton — St. Bernadette.
  • City Of Edmonton — Kate Chegwin School.
  • City Of Edmonton — Michael A Kostek Elementary School.
  • City Of Edmonton — St. Thomas Aquinas School.
  • City Of Red Deer — Hunting Hills High School.
  • City Of St. Albert — Richard S. Fowler Catholic Junior High School.
  • City Of St. Albert — Elmer S. Gish School.
  • City Of St. Albert — St. Albert Catholic High School.
  • Rocky View County — Khalsa School Calgary Educational Foundation.
  • Strathcona County — Bev Facey Community High School.
  • Strathcona County — Lakeland Ridge School.
  • Town Of Cochrane — RancheView School.
  • Westlock County — Richard F. Staples Secondary School.

You can find a full list of school outbreaks on the Alberta Health website.

Hinshaw said 153 schools that used to be on the list have been removed after they were deemed to no longer have any active cases.

Changes to checklist for student health

Hinshaw announced changes to the daily checklist of student health used by schools and child-care facilities across the province — as well as many parents.

“The first change is that we are removing runny nose and sore throat from the list of symptoms that require mandatory isolation for children,” she said.

In the past week, Hinshaw said more than 3,400 kids and youth tested for COVID-19 reported having a sore throat, and, of those, roughly 700 had a sore throat as their only symptom. Among those 700, less than one per cent tested positive.

Similarly, more than 3,300 kids with a runny nose were tested, and about 600 had a runny nose but no other symptoms. Of those 600, less than 0.5 per cent tested positive for COVID-19.

“This shows us that these symptoms by themselves are very poor indicators of whether a child has the virus,” Hinshaw said.

“I want to be clear that this change is only for those who have not had a known exposure,” she added.

Hinshaw said the second change is a “shift towards a more targeted checklist,” which will take into account the total number of symptoms a child has.

There will be no change if a child has any of the “core isolation symptoms,” which include cough, fever, shortness of breath or loss of taste or smell. Kids with these symptoms must still isolate for 10 days or have a negative test result and resolved symptoms before resuming their previous activities.  

The change, which takes effect Monday, will apply to all other symptoms. If a child has only one such symptom, Hinshaw said “they should stay home and monitor for 24 hours.”

“If their symptom is improving after 24 hours, testing is not necessary and they can return to normal activities when they feel well enough. However, if the child has two or more of the symptoms on the list, then testing is recommended and they should stay home until the symptoms go away or they test negative for COVID-19.”

The changes align Alberta’s approach with those of B.C., Ontario and Quebec, Hinshaw said.

She acknowledged “it is also another change in a year that has been full of other changes already.”

“I know that most parents and child-care operators are used to the current symptom list and this new list may be a little challenging at first, as parents and operators adjust,” she said.

“But these changes will help get Albertans under 18 back into classrooms and child-care settings more quickly, while still keeping each other safe.”

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Canadian Burial Insurance

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Canadian burial insurance

Most of us don’t want to think about our funerals, but no matter how much we neglect the inevitable, the reality is that somebody will be responsible for the expenses when the time comes. The question is, will it be our mourning loved ones that pay the bill, or will we prepare and buy funeral insurance to cover those expenses so that they have one less issue to worry about.

Funeral insurance covers your loved ones by paying funeral and service fees, so they don’t have to. Many funeral insurance plans are between $5000 and $20,000 in value and are open to People of any age, so it’s never too late to start making the requisite arrangements.

One of the best things about a funeral insurance policy is that they’re inexpensive and open to all. Funeral insurance rates are charged every month, so the payment is distributed over one year instead of appearing all at once every six or twelve months. Also, a funeral insurance package does not require a medical test, so those in high-risk groups, such as smokers, or with pre-existing medical conditions will still apply.

Even without these incentives, the fact is that funeral rates are continually increasing. Much of our new life insurance, if any, is not enough to cover medical costs, pending loans, and funeral expenses. However, with an additional funeral insurance policy, we can be confident that our loved ones have the resources to make a pleasant farewell.

Funeral insurance provides coverage and tells those we love that we have taken care of them enough to arrange and save them from the needless burden paying for our funeral. But, more than that, burial insurance can also be used to cover extra medical expenses or other bills accrued, so that debt collectors will not hurt our families at one of the saddest moments of their lives. Funeral insurance can also leave anything behind to ease their loss: college income, home repairs, or living expenses. And the recipient of the funeral insurance policy does not have to pay any taxes on the money.

Today, many people are hesitant to get insurance plans because they don’t want to be insulted by salesmen or wait for the approval. This is not an issue with funeral insurance. Interested individuals can request a funeral insurance application online without negotiating with a qualified sales force or disclosing personal information to strangers. Also, the funeral insurance application is reviewed promptly and released quickly.

The reality is that funeral insurance is the right decision for everyone and everyone because we never know when our time is coming. Funeral insurance is easy to obtain and afford. Funeral insurance will cover our funeral costs, hospital expenses, and other obligations while also providing our loved ones with some tax-free money to support them through this challenging period. Funeral insurance also allows us the peace of mind to realize that we have relieved the pressure, worry, and sorrow of our loved ones by taking action to plan for the future. The funeral insurance policy is our last way to say, “I love you.”

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