As Health Canada approves more COVID-19 vaccines, some people are hoping to get to choose which one they get when it’s their turn in Alberta.
Consensus from medical professionals is that people should get any of the approved shots as soon as possible and as soon as they are eligible.
There are differences in the reported efficacy of the vaccines, it just may not matter as much as you think, according to Dr. Craig Jenne, an infectious disease specialist and associate professor at the University of Calgary.
“The differences with the vaccines are actually quite difficult to capture. That’s because when clinical trials were conducted, they were not conducted exactly in the same fashion,” Dr. Jenne said.
Different populations were part of different trials and they were conducted at different times, too. The effectiveness of each vaccine isn’t an apples to apples comparison, he says.
“As you can imagine vaccines that were tested in early 2020 likely did not experience many of these variants. Whereas vaccines tested later in 2020 or even into early 2021 generating clinical trial data were now testing the efficacy against variants,” explained Dr. Jenne.
Canada has approved four vaccines, three of which have arrived here in Alberta.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines both have an efficacy rate of more than 90 per cent. The AstraZeneca vaccine, which will roll out to Albertans this week, reduces transmission of the virus by about 60 per cent and is around 80 per cent effective in preventing severe illness or death. All three require two doses.
The Johnson and Johnson vaccine was approved on March 5 and requires just one dose to achieve 66 per cent efficacy after at least two weeks.
“All four vaccines in Canada prevented all deaths (during trials). So nobody vaccinated in these clinical trials succumbed to the infection on any of these four vaccines,” Jenne said.
“From a functional point of view, from the efficacy on the ground, these vaccines are very comparable to each other.”
NO CHOICE FOR ALBERTANS
Alberta does not have a plan at this time to allow people to choose which vaccine they get — Dr. Deena Hinshaw recommends people get vaccinated as soon as they are able to — but some people hope that option exists by the time they’re eligible.
“I think people should be able to choose because of the fact that… (it should be) whatever they are comfortable with,” said Calgarian Isaac Ojewole, who is waiting to be eligible for the vaccine.
He said he’ll take whichever is available when it’s eventually his turn, but has a preference if given the option.
“The reason that I want to wait for Johnson and Johnson is because it’s only one shot,” he said. “You don’t have to wait, like, four months in between.”
ALBERTA LAUNCHING PHASE 2 WEDNESDAY
Vaccination appointments for Phase 2 begin Wednesday at 8 a.m. Two groups will be eligible to receive the AstraZeneca by booking online or by calling Health Link at 811.
Those eligible to book first are Albertans born in 1957 and First Nations, Métis and Inuit people born in 1972.
Booking will continue for Albertans born in 1958-1971 in the following days, one year at a time, depending on availability.
“Where this vaccine seems to differ is in preventing asymptomatic infection, which means reducing the spread of COVID-19,” Health Minister Tyler Shandro said Thursday.
Alberta is not using the AstraZeneca vaccine on people who are at a higher risk or people over the age of 65.
FDA vote expected on Johnson & Johnson vaccine booster shots – CNN
13 more die of COVID-19 in B.C. as 667 new cases confirmed – CBC.ca
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.
To help reduce hospitalizations, new orders for <a href=”https://twitter.com/Northern_Health?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@Northern_Health</a> (specific areas only) will come into effect Oct 14 at midnight. Help keep your community safe – get vaccinated today.<br><br>Find a clinic: <a href=”https://t.co/vp7cpfUzcj”>https://t.co/vp7cpfUzcj</a><br>Learn more about the orders: <a href=”https://t.co/8Rz6gITRYu”>https://t.co/8Rz6gITRYu</a>
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.
U.S. border town welcomes back fully vaccinated B.C. visitors, but travel hurdles remain – CBC.ca
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.
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