Quebec is accelerating its vaccination rollout by inoculating as many people as possible instead of holding back doses to be given later as booster shots.
“All the vaccines that we have received and that we will receive in Quebec over the next few weeks will be used to immunize as many priority groups as possible,” the Health Department said in a statement Thursday.
Vaccine-maker Pfizer had requested the province reserve half the doses as booster shots for those already vaccinated. That strategy had been criticized by health experts who said the province’s vaccine rollout was taking too long.
Quebec has so far received 87,000 doses of vaccine — 55,000 doses from Pfizer-BioNTech and 32,500 from Moderna — and has administered 29,250 injections. Both vaccines require two doses: Pfizer recommends a second dose after 21 days while Moderna says its second dose should come 28 days after the first injection.
Dr. Gaston De Serres, chief physician of the scientific immunization group at Quebec’s national public health institute, said Thursday the first dose provides the majority of the protection against the virus. The second, he added, serves mostly to prolong that protection.
Health Minister Christian Dubé announced just yesterday that the Moderna doses had arrived, writing on Twitter that the province would begin “picking up the pace.”
Meanwhile in Quebec City, almost 100 people at a long-term care home — both residents and staff — have tested positive for COVID-19 after they were vaccinated against the virus, according to the regional health authority. The Saint-Antoine long-term care home was the site of the first COVID-19 vaccination in Canada on Dec. 14.
De Serres said the outbreak at that facility had been detected several days before vaccinations began. He said it takes time for the body to build immunity following a COVID-19 vaccine.
“It’s not really a surprise to see these cases occurring,” De Serres said in an interview. “In general, with vaccines, we anticipate that protection should be present starting two weeks after the vaccine has been injected, not necessarily the day the vaccine has been injected.”
He said he doesn’t expect any more cases among people who received the vaccine on Dec. 14 and 15. The Health Department said there were 64 active cases of COVID-19 among residents at Saint-Antoine on Wednesday, the most recent date for which data is available.
Dr. Maria Sundaram, a Toronto-based epidemiologist at health-care research agency ICES, said given the high rates of community transmission and the high risk of exposure in long-term care homes, catching COVID once vaccinated “is unfortunately almost a given at this point.”
“This is not an indication that the vaccine doesn’t work,” she said in an interview Thursday. “This is an indication of the vaccine trying to work in sub-optimal conditions and it’s in a group that hasn’t been fully vaccinated.”
Quebec exceeded the 200,000 COVID-19 case mark Thursday after officials reported a record 2,819 new infections. The province also reported 62 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including 22 that occurred in the past 24 hours.
Quebec has reported a total of 202,641 COVID-19 cases and 8,226 deaths linked to the virus.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 31, 2020.
Canadian snowbirds getting the COVID-19 vaccine in Florida face backlash from some residents – CBC.ca
The story has made national headlines in the United States: Foreigners aged 65 and older in Florida, including Canadian snowbirds, are being offered the COVID-19 vaccine.
Some snowbirds who made the journey to Florida this winter — despite Canada’s advisory not to travel abroad during the pandemic — are counting their lucky stars, as they could wait months to get the shot in Canada. But they also face a backlash from some locals who argue non-Floridians shouldn’t get early access to vaccines that are currently in short supply.
“We’re first. Get to the end of the line if they want to come,” Florida resident Judy Allen told a local NBC TV station on Friday at a vaccine clinic in Sanford, Fla., north of Orlando.
A week earlier, Canadian snowbirds Andrew Paton, 75, and his wife, Jill, 74, each got their first vaccine dose at a clinic in a gated community in Palm City, Fla., where they own a home. They’re set to get their followup shot on Feb. 4.
“I’m just glad I got it,” said Andrew Paton, who is from Toronto. “Our American friends are thrilled. We’re part of this community. Let’s get everybody vaccinated if we can.”
But not everyone is on side. A few days after getting the shot, Paton said someone sent a letter to the board of his gated community, complaining that Canadian residents were offered the vaccine.
“It’s ridiculous,” he said. “We’re not taking it from anybody. Everybody in this community who wanted one could get one.”
Unlike Canada, Florida is offering COVID-19 vaccinations to everyone aged 65 and older during the first phase of its vaccine rollout. While the state discourages visitors from coming specifically to get the shot, seasonal residents are welcome to sign up.
That policy has especially angered some Floridians who have yet to secure a vaccination appointment due to a slower-than-planned rollout.
“They’re taking it from people that are ahead of them … It’s not their stockpile,” said Clare Archer, 67, of Englewood Isles, Fla., south of Tampa.
Archer is a dual Canadian-American citizen who grew up in northern Ontario and has lived in Florida for the past 25 years. She said due to the short supply of vaccines in her region, both she and her husband have yet to snag an appointment.
And even though she has Canadian roots, Archer said she objects to snowbirds both travelling to Florida during a pandemic and getting the vaccine before some Floridians.
“They absolutely should not be here,” she said. “It’s beyond infuriating.”
WATCH | Why Canada’s vaccine rollout is so slow:
Several Florida politicians are also angry. Last week, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez announced he’s trying to revise the rules so that non-permanent residents in Miami are last in line to receive the vaccine.
And on Jan. 10, Rick Scott, one of the state’s U.S. senators, declared on Twitter: “Vaccines must go first to Floridians.”
This is deeply concerning. Vaccines must go first to Floridians, starting with our health care and front line workers and most vulnerable populations. This week, I asked for answers from <a href=”https://twitter.com/HealthyFla?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@HealthyFla</a> and more info on Florida’s vaccine distribution: <a href=”https://t.co/ASBzKoMnh7″>https://t.co/ASBzKoMnh7</a> <a href=”https://t.co/FcWFfmk5jP”>https://t.co/FcWFfmk5jP</a>
It’s up to each U.S. state to decide who gets priority during the vaccine rollout. In a news conference earlier this month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis explained why he’s not turning away seasonal residents who meet the current age requirement.
“We’re a transient state,” he said. “People who are here, four or five months a year, they have relationships with doctors, they get medical care in Florida.”
Canadian snowbirds on Good Morning America
Visitors in Florida getting the vaccine has become such a hot topic, the popular TV show Good Morning America covered the issue in a news segment on Friday.
“Residents across America — even Canada and Argentina — flocking to Florida … leading to what some are calling vaccine tourism,” the segment said.
The story featured Canadian snowbirds Shelton and Karen Papple of Brantford, Ont. The couple travelled to their home in Fort Myers before Florida announced its vaccine plans, and are both scheduled to get their first dose on Monday.
Papple, 66, told CBC News he has no qualms about getting vaccinated in Florida.
“We live here, we pay taxes,” he said. “We’re all in this together. It’s a world problem and everybody should be banding together.”
He said he also believes that reports of Canadians flocking to the state to get the vaccine are overblown, because there are plenty of hurdles. On top of securing a vaccine appointment, you must test negative for COVID-19 before travelling to Florida (effective Jan. 26); stay in Florida for up to a month to get the second dose; receive another negative COVID-19 test before returning to Canada; and quarantine for 14 days upon your return.
But some Canadians are still willing to make the trip.
Travel insurance broker Martin Firestone of Toronto’s Travel Secure said about 100 of his snowbird clients who originally decided not to head to Florida this winter due to the pandemic are now planning to travel to the state to get vaccinated.
But these aren’t cases of “vaccine tourism,” he said, because his clients plan to stay for the rest of the winter.
“They all own property and are really just exercising their right, I guess, to head down to a state that is offering vaccines,” said Firestone.
Papple suggests that as Florida secures and doles out more doses, the backlash against foreigners like him getting the shot will calm down.
“As things go along, the more and more people get vaccinated, I think that becomes a duller story.”
To help speed up the rollout, the state is now offering vaccine shots at a major pharmacy chain in the state. And more than a dozen federal lawmakers representing Florida, including Sen. Marco Rubio, have asked federal officials to beef up Florida’s vaccine supply to accommodate its large number of seasonal residents.
Ontario must cut COVID-19 cases to 1,000 daily to lift lockdowns, medical officer says – Global News
TORONTO — COVID-19 cases in Ontario must fall below 1,000 per day before lockdown measures can be lifted, the province’s top doctor said Monday as he expressed cautious optimism that infection rates may have plateaued.
Dr. David Williams said while the province’s virus rates remain high – with 2,578 new cases reported Monday – he thinks the impact of a provincewide lockdown that started on Boxing Day is beginning to emerge.
Williams said Ontario’s seven-day case average has dropped to just over 3,000 cases he said, down from the mid-3,000s in recent weeks.
He said he would like to see the province’s new daily case counts move to levels last seen in late October before any pandemic measures are relaxed.
“It is achievable, we can get back there,” Williams said. “I take that as a sign that Ontarians … are making headway.”
Williams said he would also like to see the number of COVID-19 patients in hospital intensive care units drop to 150 – from 395 reported Monday – before ending the lockdown.
“If you get below 150 COVID patients in ICU beds that starts to get you back down to where all the hospitals can start to do their other elective procedures,” he said.
Williams said while people must continue to stay-at-home and follow public health rules, the latest numbers show that Ontario’s per cent positivity has not risen in recent days.
His comments come less than a week after the province was plunged into its second state of emergency during the pandemic and Premier Doug Ford’s government imposed a stay-at-home order.
© 2021 The Canadian Press
LILLEY: Vaccine debacle triggers scramble to make do with existing supply – Toronto Sun
Article content continued
In two weeks, starting Jan. 31, deliveries are expected to drop by 50% — from 143,000 doses to 71,500.
During the week of Feb. 7, deliveries are expected to be 45% lower than promised with regular deliveries starting the week of Feb. 14.
“The impact is huge,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Monday.
Officials working on the provincial plan described a logistics nightmare of having to change gears. Instead of ramping up to vaccinate a record number of people, they’re trying to ensure that those who have received the first shot get their second.
It was the same reaction in Alberta.
“We’ll have to delay the number of planned vaccines for eligible health-care workers, and the vaccinations to other Albertans,” Premier Jason Kenney said.
“This week, new shipments of Pfizer vaccines will not be enough to match our pace of inoculation, and so appointments regrettably will have to be rescheduled.”
While Kenney mused about trying to find other vaccine supplies elsewhere, Ford said he wants Ontario to ramp up vaccine production in the future.
Contrary to what many have claimed, Canada still has vaccine manufacturing capabilities.
There have been attempts by the Liberals to blame the Harper Conservatives, or even Brian Mulroney’s government, for Canada not being a player in vaccine manufacturing. It’s nothing but politics.
The Mulroney government sold off what had been known as Connaught Laboratories to a French firm in the ’80s. Today, it’s the Connaught Campus of French vaccine giant Sanofi Pasteur and is Canada’s largest vaccine manufacturer.
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