AKWESASNE (Kenténha/October 17, 2022) — The Saint Regis Mohawk Health Services reported an overall vaccination rate of 72.6%, which is an increase of 3.6% since their last report on Seskéha /August 10th. The updated rate reflects individuals who have received their initial two-shot series of a COVID-19 Vaccine.
The largest increase in vaccinations took place among individuals ages 18-years old or more, which increased by 4.4%. This age group saw an additional 256 community members receive their first dose of a COVID-19 Vaccine. The age group also saw another 109 people receive their first booster (Monovalent Booster) and an additional 122 receive their second booster (Bivalent Booster).
The Monovalent Booster is available for individuals ages 5-years old or more, while the Bivalent Booster is for clients who are 12 years or more and received their first booster at least four (4) months ago. Individuals can get either Booster shot at their Walk-in Vaccine Clinic held every Wednesday at the Tribal Clinic, located at 404 State Route 37 in Akwesasne.
Due to staff shortage, the Wednesday, October 19th Walk-in COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic will be cancelled. Please call (518) 358-3142 if you would like to schedule your vaccination for Wednesday, October 26th.
Health Services is kindly urging eligible individuals to please get their Booster shots, particularly the Bivalent Booster, as it contains an mRNA component that has common attributes of the omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5 and provides better protection. The tribal clinic has the Bivalent Pfizer Vaccine available for individuals 12-years old or more, while the Bivalent Moderna Vaccine is available for clients who are 18 years or older.
Individuals are encouraged to download the new Health Services app for your smartphone or other device to stay up-to-date on COVID-19. The “Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe” app can be downloaded from the Apple Store or Google Play and includes a clinic directory, health videos, tribal news and events, employment opportunities, a quick link to the Tribal Members Portal, and other important information.
Children’s hospital in Newfoundland and Labrador is cancelling some surgeries
A children’s hospital in the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador is cancelling some surgeries and appointments starting Monday.
Health officials say it’s due to a high level of respiratory illness.
It is unclear how many surgeries and appointments at Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre in St. John‘s will be affected.
Residents who are not experiencing a medical emergency are being asked to avoid visiting an emergency department.
Older adults amongst the most susceptible to RSV
TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The risk of Respiratory Syncytial Virus, also known as RSV, typically flies under the radar when it comes to older adults.
With 10 times the amount of older adults being hospitalized for RSV than in previous years, understanding the risk is important for those who are more susceptible.
“RSV in older adults starts out with the same symptoms as younger adults. With common cold-like symptoms- nasal congestion, sniffles, low-grade temperature, sore throat, dry cough, tiredness. These symptoms will last for a few days,” Mary Derby, Nurse Manager at Pima County Health Department explained.
“However, an older adult or an adult with chronic medical conditions such as heart and lung disease- they can experience more serious symptoms, such as getting a high fever, dehydration, and real difficulty breathing.”
Derby says if these symptoms lead to extreme chest pain, loss of color in the face, or struggle to breathe- seek medical attention immediately.
It is also important for those assisting an older adult to be aware of the risk imposed on those more susceptible.
“If you’re caring for older adults, please wash your hands frequently. Watch for your own symptoms and stay away if you’re experiencing symptoms. Consider wearing a mask to protect that older adult, because these older adults do need that protection… Take it seriously,” Derby emphasized.
Upward 6,000 to 10,000 older adults die each year from RSV.
As we make our way through the holidays, be sure to stay up to date with COVID-19 and Influenza vaccines, stay home if you are not feeling well, wash your hands often and for those at higher risk, wear a fitted mask around others.
AIDS day walk in North Battleford aims to `banish that stigma’
By Julia Peterson
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
On World AIDS Day, advocates in the Battlefords gathered to raise awareness about how the virus affects people in their community, and how people can get help and treatment, if they need it.
“HIV is completely preventable in today’s society, with all the advances in medication,” said Battle River Treaty 6 Health Centre’s HIV project coordinator, Cymric Leask. “But due to a lot of intersecting factors, especially due to COVID in the past couple of years, our HIV numbers have skyrocketed.”
In 2021, more than 200 new cases of HIV were diagnosed in the province, even while testing, treatment and outreach were reduced during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saskatchewan has the highest rate of new HIV infections in Canada, and has had the highest annual rate in the country for more than a decade.
The proportion of new HIV cases in rural areas is rising, too.
“Here up north, there are such large barriers to access to care,” said Leask. “We do have some great resources here in North Battleford but it’s still very hard to access the proper care for HIV.”
For example, getting started on HIV medication requires a visit with a communicable disease doctor, but there is no communicable disease doctor based in the Battlefords. Instead, that doctor visits the community only once every four months.
Another barrier Leask has found is that many people still have an outdated understanding of what HIV is, who is at risk and how treatment works.
“Especially here in rural areas, it’s stigmatized as something that only affects gay or bisexual men, men who have sex with men,” Leask said.
Today in Saskatchewan, men and women are diagnosed with HIV at almost equal rates, and two thirds of new cases are passed through injection drug use.
Treatments are much easier to manage than they used to be; some only involve taking one pill a day.
But the enduring stigma around HIV makes it harder for people to find community and support.
“People don’t talk about it,” said Jackie Kennedy, executive director of the Battlefords Indian and Metis Friendship Centre. “I think they’re afraid to. A lot of people don’t disclose that information (about their HIV status) because they are afraid to be judged.”
As more people continue to be diagnosed with HIV in Saskatchewan every year, groups and organizations in the Battlefords are working hard to make it easier for people to get testing, treatment, information and harm reduction supplies.
“We want to banish that stigma of how it used to be,” said Leask. “It’s not like that anymore.”
Julia Peterson is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with THE STARPHOENIX
The LJI program is federally funded.
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