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Select Rexall, Costco locations among pharmacies to administer AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Ontario – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Shoppers Drug Mart, Rexall, Loblaws and Costco are among the pharmacy chains participating in the rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in three regions of Ontario this week, Premier Doug Ford announced Wednesday.

As part of a new pilot program, 325 pharmacies in Toronto, Windsor-Essex, and Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington, are offering COVID-19 vaccination appointments to Ontarians born between between January 1, 1957 and December 31, 1961. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday afternoon, Ford said some of those pharmacies had already started administering vaccines as of this morning.

Both big chains and smaller independent pharmacies have been included in the pilot, the premier said.

For a full list of participating pharmacies follow this link

Although people between the ages of 60 and 64 are not being prioritized during Phase One of province’s vaccination program, the AstraZeneca doses are being made available to people in that age group based on the advice of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.

The committee said the AstraZeneca vaccine is not recommended for people ages 65 and older due to “limited information on the efficacy of this vaccine in this age group.”

The 194,000 AstraZeneca doses that Ontario has now received are set to expire on April 2 and the pilot program will help ensure vaccine doses are delivered as “quickly and efficiently” as possible, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said this week.

Vaccines will go to doctors’ offices in other regions

This weekend, AstraZeneca doses will also be delivered to primary care settings, including physician offices, in Hamilton, Peel Region, Simcoe-Muskoka, Peterborough, Guelph, and Toronto, Ford said.

Primary care providers in those areas will not be taking appointments by request but will be reaching out to eligible patients.

Retired Gen. Rick Hiller, who is leading Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution task force, acknowledged Wednesday that the first shipment of AstraZeneca vaccine doses won’t come anywhere close to vaccinating everyone in that age group across the province.

“Our first allocation of AstraZeneca is 194,000. In that age group of 60 to 64 across Ontario there are one million people so clearly we don’t nearly have enough vaccines to do all of that age group in this first batch,” he said at a news conference on Wednesday afternoon.

“We are not sure of the next arrivals of AstraZeneca but you can be sure as soon as we get them, as soon as we know, we will publicize that and we will move it to our logistics pipeline and get it to pharmacies and family doctors and carry on along that same age group until we have finished all of those who are eligible and who want to have the vaccine.”

The province is currently in Phase One of its vaccination program, which prioritizes health-care workers at the highest risk of infection and people over the age of 80 for a shot.

To date, Ontario has administered just 943,533 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine but the Ontario government has said it hopes to inoculate another one million people in the month of March.

During Phase Two of its vaccine program, which is set to run from April to July, the province has said it plans to offer doses to nine million more Ontarians.

The Ontario government plans to ramp up inoculations next week when it launches its online appointment booking portal on Monday. Officials say more than 120 mass immunization clinics are scheduled to open this month and many areas, including the regions of Peel and York, have already opened mass vaccination sites to begin inoculating people over the age of 80.

Toronto plans to open its first three mass immunizations clinics on March 17.

Speaking to CP24 on Wednesday morning, Mayor John Tory called the province’s pharmacy rollout “a great step forward.”

“I think people should understand that as supply has increased, the different kinds of places we are going to be able to administer the vaccine have been increasing as well,” he said.

A group of hospitals in Toronto have launched their own booking portal and have already begun inoculating people over the age of 80.

Vaccines are currently only available at select pharmacies in Toronto, Windsor-Essex, and Kingston but the premier said Wednesday that as more supply become available, additional pharmacies will come online and begin to offer COVID-19 vaccines to the general public.

Ford said while not all of the province’s 4,900 pharmacies will be involved in the vaccine rollout, “the vast majority will.”

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13 more die of COVID-19 in B.C. as 667 new cases confirmed – CBC.ca

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British Columbia announced 667 new cases of COVID-19 and 13 more deaths on Friday, the most deaths in one day since Feb. 3.

In a written statement, the provincial government said there are currently 5,128 active cases of people infected with the novel coronavirus in B.C.

A total of 367 people are in hospital, with 152 in intensive care.

Overall hospitalizations, which typically lag behind spikes and dips in new cases, are up by 1.9 per cent from last Friday, when 360 people were in hospital with the disease and about 27 per cent from a month ago when 288 people were in hospital.

The number of patients in intensive care is up by about 11 per cent from 137 a week ago and by the same percentage from a month ago when 137 people were also in the ICU.

The provincial death toll from COVID-19 is now 2,055 lives lost out of 196,433 confirmed cases to date.

As of Friday, 89 per cent of those 12 and older in B.C. have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 83 per cent a second dose.

So far, eight million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, including 3.8 million second doses.

There are a total of 19 active outbreaks in assisted living, long-term and acute care. There has been one new outbreak at GR Baker Memorial Hospital in Quesnel. The outbreak at Good Samaritan Delta View Care Centre has been declared over.

The acute care hospitals currently affected by COVID outbreaks are Mission Memorial Hospital, University Hospital of Northern B.C., GR Baker Memorial Hospital, and Tofino General Hospital. 

More than 90 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and three people have died as a result of an outbreak at a care home in Burnaby, and officials say the death toll is expected to grow. 

The majority of cases at the Willingdon Care Centre are among residents, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. Health Minister Adrian Dix said Thursday he expects the number of deaths will rise to 10 over the next several days due to a delay in data reporting.

New northern restrictions

More restrictions for the northern part of the province came into effect Thursday at midnight and will last until at least Nov. 19 in an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the region.

Restrictions in the region now include limiting indoor and outdoor gatherings to fully vaccinated people only, capping the number of people who can gather in any setting, moving worship services online, cutting off alcohol sales earlier at night and mandating masks and safety plans at organized events.

Health officials are strongly recommending people stay in their community unless it is essential for work or medical reasons. 

Restrictions are also in place in the Interior Health region and communities in the eastern Fraser Valley.

Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry continues to reiterate the importance of immunization to reduce the risk of illness and death due to COVID-19.

From Oct. 7 to 13, people who were not fully vaccinated accounted for 68.3 per cent of cases and from Sept. 30 to Oct. 13, they accounted for 76.3 per cent of hospitalizations, according to the province. 

Anyone who has not yet received a shot is encouraged to do so immediately. Appointments can be made online through the Get Vaccinated portal, by calling 1-833-838-2323, or in-person at any Service B.C. location. 

People can also be immunized at walk-in clinics throughout the province.

B.C. health officials are awaiting a federal review of COVID-19 vaccines for five- to 11-year-olds and are encouraging families to register their children now as they anticipate doses being available for this group by early November.

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U.S. border town welcomes back fully vaccinated B.C. visitors, but travel hurdles remain – CBC.ca

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Businesses in northern Washington state are welcoming back Canadian customers once the United States reopens its land borders, but a B.C. mayor says travellers may face hurdles.

The U.S. is allowing fully vaccinated travellers from Canada to enter the United States by air, land and ferry for non-essential travel starting Nov. 8.

Those entering the U.S. at a land border will be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or attest to their vaccination status upon request by a border agent. Land travellers do not need to show a negative COVID-19 test, a requirement for air travellers. 

Karen Frisbie, Chamber of Commerce president in Oroville, Wash. — a town of more than 19,000 residents bordering Osoyoos in B.C.’s South Okanagan — says her community has been quiet without Canadians travelling south to shop during the pandemic.

“We definitely miss our Canadian neighbours and look forward to having them back,” Frisbie said Friday to host Chris Walker on CBC’s Daybreak South.

Many border towns in Washington state struggled due to COVID-19 restrictions preventing Canadians from travelling across the border. The city of Blaine, for instance, said last August their finances were hit hard after several months without Canadian visitors.

Osoyoos Mayor Sue McKortoff says she can feel the happiness of Canadians who know they’ll be able to visit Oroville.

“A lot of the people in Osoyoos love to go to Oroville — they have their special places [and] restaurants [in Oroville], and they love to go down there for American milk and cheese and beer, and gas sometimes,” McKortoff said on Daybreak South.

But the mayor also strikes a cautious note.

“You still need a PCR test to come back to Canada,” she said, referring to a type of molecular testing. Molecular COVID-19 tests involve methods such a nose swab, or providing a saliva sample.

“You’re not going to go down there for a day, and [you] have to worry about having a PCR test in order to get back through the border.”

Canada still requires arriving travellers to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of their entry to Canada, regardless of their point of entry — but labs could take more than 72 hours to issue a test result.

“We need to wait until all of those things have been solved a little bit better before people will even take the chance to go across,” McKortoff said.

LISTEN |  Karen Frisbie and Sue McKortoff share their hopes and concerns about U.S. border reopening to Canadians:

Daybreak South5:24What will opening the U.S. border to Canadians mean to border communities? We go to Oroville, Washington and Osoyoos to hear more about the impacts on those cities.

What will opening the U.S. border to Canadians mean to border communities? We go to Oroville, Washington and Osoyoos to hear more about the impacts on those cities. 5:24

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