An increasing number of pregnant women in Alberta are winding up in emergency rooms and intensive care units suffering from COVID-19.
The hospitalizations come as Delta variant case rates surge province-wide.
According to University of Calgary researchers who have collected data on COVID-19 infection among pregnant women, there have been 900 new COVID-19 cases in pregnant people since April and the case rate is rising rapidly.
New infections have risen from an average of four per week in July to 25 cases in the past week alone.
Of those, 14 pregnant women required a trip to the emergency room and two are presently in ICU with the COVID-19 Delta variant, including one woman who is on a ventilator.
Researchers say some of these mothers passed COVID-19 to their newborns, and some of those babies had to be admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit.
Dr. Eliana Castillo of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute maintains that each of theses events was preventable.
“Pregnant people have been eligible for COVID-19 vaccination in Alberta since early 2021,” explained Dr. Castillo. “We have strong evidence from the over 100,000 pregnant people vaccinated against COVID-19 that the vaccines are safe and provide good protection for both mother and baby.”
While full immunization data on pregnant women experiencing severe COVID-19 illness during the fourth wave is not yet known, researchers say those pregnant women who got sick and contracted COVID-19 in the third wave had not received the shot.
Researchers say many pregnant women are hesitant about vaccines, citing the safety concerns for both themselves and their babies.
Alberta’s current wave of COVID-19 cases is being driven by the Delta variant of the virus, which is now the dominant strain across the province and substantially more contagious than previous variants of the disease.
The Delta variant is spreading primarily among those who remain unvaccinated and is the cause of the most severe COVID-19 related illnesses in Alberta.
Flu surges on heels of RSV, COVID-19 to overwhelm children’s hospitals in Canada – Lacombe Express
A flu season that started early, hospitalized far more children than usual and overwhelmed emergency departments has revealed that Canada’s health-care system is chronically underfunded when it comes to the most vulnerable citizens, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist says.
Dr. Jesse Papenburg, who works at Montreal Children’s Hospital, said a system that was already struggling with a surge of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, on the heels of COVID-19 is now overwhelmed in much of the country.
“Certainly, Ontario and Alberta in particular have been hit very hard with an early and really quite explosive influenza season in pediatrics when it comes to more severe disease requiring complex hospitalization. And we’re also observing in Montreal as well that our influenza admissions are really starting to pick up,” he said.
The last week of November saw the highest number of pediatric hospitalizations for a single week in the past decade, said Papenburg, who is also an investigator for IMPACT, a program that monitors hospitalizations for vaccine-preventable diseases at 12 children’s hospitals across the country.
A typical flu season sees about 1,000 kids admitted to hospital. Due to pandemic public health measures, he said last season saw only 400 and there were none the season before that.
Up to the end of November, over 700 children had been hospitalized with the H3N2 strain of the flu, which typically takes a toll on older adults. But the season could continue until March or April, Papenburg said of the unexpected epidemic.
“When you’re already stretched to the limit under normal circumstances and there’s something exceptional that takes place, it really has a greater impact on the type of care that we can deliver to Canadian children,” he said. “It’s unacceptable, in my view, that this is happening, that we are having to delay important surgeries for children because we need those resources for dealing with acute respiratory infections.”
While the number of RSV hospitalizations is stabilizing, there’s still a “significant burden of disease requiring complex hospitalization,” he said of the Montreal hospital.
Alex Munter, president of Ottawa pediatric hospital CHEO, said the Red Cross will be helping take some of the pressure off critical-care staff starting this week.
He said two teams of nine people will work rotating overnight shifts and that some will be porters while others get supplies or sit with patients.
“Having these Red Cross teams on-site will allow us to send back redeployed staff to their home base,” he said.
“The test positivity rate last week for flu was 30 per cent compared to 10 per cent at the end of October. That’s a big increase and it’s still climbing so flu hospitalizations are increasing and RSV is plateauing,” Munter said.
CHEO, including its emergency department and urgent care clinic, is also getting help from pediatricians, family doctors and nurses in the community while some patients are being transferred to adult hospitals, Munter said.
“We can’t run our hospital this way in perpetuity. I think the moral of the story here is that we have undersized child and youth health system in Canada.”
SickKids in Toronto continues to see high patient volumes in the pediatric intensive care unit and since November has reduced the number of surgeries so staff can be redeployed to provide care in that unit.
“We have been co-ordinating closely with other hospital partners that have the ability to care for some pediatric patients,” the hospital said in a statement, adding it is not currently seeking staffing support from external organizations.
Dr. Shazma Mithani, an emergency room doctor at both the Stollery Children’s Hospital and Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton, said a temporary closure of a pediatric hospice in Calgary is “tragic” as staff are being diverted to a children’s hospital.
“It means that kids who are dying are not getting the palliative and comfort care that they deserve and need, and that acute care is taking priority over that,” Mithani said.
Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos has said Ottawa recently gave provinces an additional $2 billion as calls grow for both levels of government to do more to help hospitals facing unprecedented challenges.
Mithani said funding has to be targeted for children’s hospitals and could also go to staffing after-hours clinics, for example.
She said people planning large indoor gatherings over Christmas and for New Year’s Eve should consider scaling back, while schools should transition to temporary online learning if they have a large number of viral illnesses
Health officials also need to make a concerted effort to educate the public on the importance of vaccination amid misinformation on social media, Mithani said.
“The most vulnerable people in our society are suffering as a result of the decisions that adults made. That’s what’s happening here, that kids are suffering from the poor decisions of adult decision-makers who can’t seem to do the right thing in order to protect our kids.”
These are some of the advantages of childcare!
The teaching staff at the daycare encourages interaction between the children by, for example, playing music together, letting them play on the activity mat, or playing games with them. Other ways that interaction is encouraged to include having them play on the activity mat. Your youngster will begin to develop basic social skills in this manner. They also develop the skills to make friends, stand up for themselves when they are bullied, and share with their fellow students as they get older.
When a child attends child care, they will learn…
There are millions of children who spend each day having fun, discovering new things, and playing at one of the hundreds of childcare centers across the country. Child care is a great option not just for working parents but also for the children of those parents, who can reap the countless benefits that child care has to offer. Child care is a fantastic choice for both working parents and their children.
Children are given access to a safe and nurturing environment in which they are encouraged to investigate the world around them. At the same time, they are given the opportunity to learn essential skills that will enable them to be successful in both their academic endeavours and in life more generally. The following are reasons why it is beneficial to both you and your child for you to enroll your child in an early education program at a childcare center.
Capability to communicate with other people
If a child begins visiting a childcare facility at the earliest possible age, it will be of great benefit to their overall social and emotional development. Children have the potential to develop when they learn to engage with people, such as at Daycare Calgary NW or another location. The earlier in life that children begin this process, the simpler it will be for them to mature.
The capacity for reflection and investigation
A childcare facility that is of high quality will offer a variety of activities and educational games to the children who are enrolled there. These activities and games have the potential to have a positive impact on the cognitive development of children. In addition to acquiring linguistic skills, they will also gain familiarity with shapes, colour schemes, and numerical values.
While taking part in this activity, young people have the opportunity to increase both their general knowledge of the world and their capacity for critical thought. This is still another advantage. In order to make learning more appealing to the children in their care, a good daycare center will, on a daily basis, involve the children in a variety of educational activities. Many of these activities will be presented to the children in the guise of “play,” but their true purpose will be to educate them.
A lesson plan that has been carefully considered
Each and every daycare center has a set of pedagogical guidelines that have been thoroughly analyzed. This provides an overview of the concept that underpins the nursery’s approach to interacting with children. For instance, one of the concepts is to incentivize forward movement. Not only does your kid pick up a lot of social skills at daycare, but they also improve their important motor skills, creative abilities, and cognitive abilities, all while being challenged. The educational staff participates in a variety of activities, such as movement games, reading books, playing outside, and producing music with the student. These activities all contribute to the kids’ development. The development of language is helped by intentionally naming objects and repeatedly using words.
B.C. to start public push to get more kids vaccinated against flu as cases climb
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VANCOUVER — British Columbia health officials are urging parents to get their young children vaccinated against influenza ahead of the holiday season as the province deals with crowded emergency rooms.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said after two years of low rates of flu, mostly due to travel restrictions, the province is seeing a “dramatic increase” in illness and it arrived sooner than normal.
“We know, much more than COVID, influenza can cause more severe illness in children, especially young children, and it can lead to secondary bacterial infections with things like streptococcus and pneumococcus that can cause very severe pneumonia,” she said Monday.
“And so that’s the concern that we have now.”
Henry said there is still time for people to get a flu vaccine to protect themselves and their children, especially as the holiday season approaches.
“We’re starting to see the impact of a large number of children who haven’t been exposed to influenza for a few years and a small proportion of them are getting severely ill,” she said.
“So now’s the time to really make a difference and get that vaccine now.”
According to the most recent numbers from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, for the week of Nov. 20, 169 patients were in BC Children’s Hospital with some form of a respiratory virus. Of those, 71 had influenza.
Henry said the province started seeing influenza numbers climb about two weeks ago and that the flu season typically lasts about two months.
While the province is on track for a record number of people getting their flu shot this year, Dr. Penny Ballem, with BC Vaccine Operations, said Monday that only 20 per cent of children under five have been vaccinated.
The government will be using its provincial health registry to contact parents in an attempt to increase that number.
Ballem said they’ll be sending texts and emails to the families of about 150,000 children under five who are not part of the province’s vaccine booking system and inviting them to make appointments.
She said there’s also a significant social media campaign from the government and health authorities encouraging people to get vaccinated.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said visits to provincial emergency rooms had been averaging 6,700 per day, but that is now peaking up to 6,900 patients daily, with extra pressure on BC Children’s and Fraser Health hospitals.
B.C. Children’s briefly called a code orange on Saturday, a step sometimes used in mass casualty events. It was lifted 28 minutes later.
Dix said it was determined the code did not need to be enacted in order to make the mandatory overtime call-out, which was required at the time.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 5, 2022.
The Canadian Press
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