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School Flu Vaccine Information Coming Soon – VOCM

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The regional health authorities are starting to distribute information on free flu shots for students in the school system.

The provincial government announced earlier this month that it would be providing flu shots in schools and long-term care homes to help encourage influenza vaccination rates.

Public health officials are most concerned about the possible strain to the health care system caused by the flu and COVID-19. The flu can seriously affect vulnerable patients. It’s spread was suddenly halted earlier this year due to public health measures imposed.

This year all school staff and students from grades 4 to 12 will be offered flu vaccines at school. Parents will not be accommodated in schools and are being encouraged to make an appointment for their own flu shot at a flu clinic, or through their doctor or local pharmacy. Parents will not be permitted to enter the school to support or comfort their child. If the child does require support, parents are encouraged to take their child to a flu clinic.

Consent forms are in the process of being distributed over the coming days.

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Anti-maskers need to reflect on the true meaning of 'injustice,' B.C. health officials say – CBC.ca

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B.C.’s health minister is imploring belligerent anti-maskers to have some compassion and perspective when it comes to the true meaning of injustice.

During Wednesday’s COVID-19 briefing, Adrian Dix described wearing a mask in indoor public spaces, in compliance with B.C. law, is “a sign of respect for one another.”

For those who claim their rights and freedoms have been unjustly curtailed by the mask mandate, Dix asked for consideration of staff and patients at Burnaby Hospital, who are dealing with a deadly outbreak and the aftermath of a fire at the same time.

“That’s unjust. It’s unjust that all of the people have to go through this, but we do, together,” Dix said.

“So when people use terms of injustice, they should be properly applied.”

He also spoke of Wednesday’s record-high 13 deaths from the novel coronavirus, and how awful those losses are for  families and friends left behind.

Dix said for the most part, he sees British Columbians pulling together to do their part during this second wave of the pandemic. Most people are respecting physical distancing measures, washing their hands, staying home when they’re sick and wearing masks, the health minister said.

“Others need to reflect when they claim injustice here about wearing a mask … because there are people here who are genuinely suffering and working hard in extraordinary circumstances and we need to be with them,” Dix said.

On Tuesday, the province announced $230 fines for anyone who does not comply with its mandatory mask order.

The mandate requires workers and members of the public to wear face coverings in all retail environments, restaurants and indoor public spaces, including common areas of workplaces, except when eating or drinking.

The B.C. government says anyone who is not wearing a mask, who does not leave a space when asked, or who responds with belligerent or abusive behaviour is subject to the fine.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Wednesday that she “has no time” for people who are aggressive or rude about refusing to wear a mask, or those who spread conspiracy theories about COVID-19.

“I have no time for people who believe that wearing a mask somehow makes them ill or is a sign of lack of freedom,” Henry said.

“To me, it’s about a sign of respect for our fellow people who are suffering through this with us.”

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Deadliest day of pandemic in B.C.: 13 COVID-19 deaths, 738 infections – News 1130

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VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — B.C. recorded its deadliest day yet in the pandemic with 13 people losing their lives to COVID-19.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also reported Wednesday another 738 people have been infected with the virus.

The number of patients in hospital has broken another daily high with 294, with 61 in the ICU.

No new outbreaks were reported for the first time in weeks, and the one at Royal Columbian Hospital is over.

There are still 57 active outbreaks in health-care facilities.

Henry again said the majority of new cases were from the Fraser Health region, but she also issued a data correction for that area spanning from Nov. 17 to 24. While some days the number was higher than initially reported, Tuesday’s provincial total of 941 was actually 706 following the updated data in Fraser Health.

Rapid testing, vaccine on the horizon

Henry noted a number of rapid tests have been received from the federal government, including Abbott’s ID NOW.

“We have received 131 of the machines and 27,000 tests. However, as you can tell that would not be enough, for example, to do all of our health care workers in long-term care even once,” she said. “At this point, and we are working on how we can test deploy those machines to help us understand when outbreaks are happening when people need to be tested rapidly in the community.”

Another 500,000 antigen tests have also been acquired, Henry said, adding all the tests still need to be done by a health-care professional and are limited.

“So right now we’re limited in how we can use these, they are also only licensed for use in people who are symptomatic,” she said. “These tests are things that we can use to rapidly assess whether it’s COVID causing those symptoms or not.”

While the province is working on how best to use the tests, such as testing symptomatic people in long-term care and on the Downtown Eastside, Henry said they aren’t that reliable. She also clarified these are not the same tests being used in film production or in the NHL.

Henry said more tests will be arriving, and she hopes to see other types of rapid testing get approval for asymptomatic testing.

She touched on positive vaccine news and announced Dr. Ross Brown, vice president for Vancouver Coastal Health’s pandemic response, will be leading B.C.’s vaccine program with Henry and the deputy minister.

They’ll be in charge of getting the vaccine to British Columbians as soon as it’s available.

“Hopefully, as early as January,” Henry said.

It will take time for the province to get doses when they become available, so those most at risk will be prioritized to get vaccinated first, Henry said.

Even so, she said the province doesn’t know how many vaccines it will receive, so there are still unknowns when it comes to distribution.

In the meantime, she urged everyone to continue with COVID-19 health orders and reach out to loved ones virtually to check-in.

“We need to look — each of us — at ourselves, and we need to look deep,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said. “We must force COVID-19 to loosen its grip. And that is a critical, critical aspect to what we’re doing.”

Current COVID-19  health orders run out Dec. 7. Henry said by then, the province will know what needs to be done next.

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B.C. working on vaccine rollout plan as province records 738 new COVID-19 cases – Powell River Peak

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VICTORIA — Provincial health officials say they are working on British Columbia’s plan to handle COVID-19 vaccines.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, says Dr. Ross Brown of Vancouver Coastal Health will join the group working to organize the logistics around the distribution of vaccines.

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B.C. recorded another 13 deaths and 738 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the total to 29,086.

The province also issued a correction for nine days of case totals in the Fraser Health region, revising Tuesday’s COVID-19 case count to 706 instead of 941.

Henry says front-line workers as well as those in long-term care homes will likely have priority for vaccinations.

She cautioned that while the province has contracts with vaccine makers, there can be challenges with offshore manufacturing.

“It’s very much focused on who is most at risk and how do we protect them best,” Henry said. “There’s a lot of discussion that needs to happen.”

Henry said they hope to have vaccines by January 2021.

She said she was surprised at how quickly the virus has spread during the fall, and health restrictions imposed across the province last week are an attempt to deal with the sudden surge in cases.

Henry urged people to think of the impact COVID-19 is having on health-care workers, particularly those at Burnaby General Hospital, where an outbreak has led to 55 patients and 40 hospital staff contracting the virus.

She also pushed back against those who oppose B.C.’s mandatory mask requirements, over claims it impacts their personal freedoms.

“I have no time for people who believe that wearing a mask somehow makes them ill or is a lack of freedom. It’s a sign of respect,” she said.

Henry’s call for compassion came on the same day the BC Coroners Service reported 162 overdose deaths for October.

The number of overdose deaths has become “unacceptably high,” she said, while urging residents to show compassion to drug users, and drug users not to take drugs alone.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.

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