Some Ontario residents might see it as bad news, but Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, the medical officer of health for Public Health for Sudbury and Districts, sees the shortage in the flu vaccine program as “a really good news story.”
Sutcliffe was commenting on the fact that there is currently a shortage of flu vaccine doses in Ontario, but she said that doesn’t mean fewer people are getting vaccinated.
“My understanding is that this is a question of increased interest and uptake this year, which is a really good news story. And possibly it’s just a question of the timing of the delivery, but I don’t know that for certain,” said Sutcliffe on Tuesday.
The reality was spelled out Monday by Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott in response to a question from Nickel Belt MPP and opposition health critic France Gélinas, who wanted to know why some pharmacies in Northern Ontario had run out of the flu vaccine.
Elliott responded by revealing that Ontario residents have been coming out to get flu shots in unprecedented numbers.
“I can tell you that as of today (Monday, Nov.2), just at pharmacies, over one million doses have already been given to people. Whereas this time last year, it was 150,000, and we almost had to beg people to come in to get the flu vaccine. Over one million doses already. So this is a very successful flu campaign. As I said, I’m very grateful that the people of Ontario are coming forward to get their flu shot,” Elliott said.
Gélinas responded that this doesn’t help the people in her riding who are seeking to get their flu shot now.
Elliott said Ontario had set aside more than $28 million to purchase more flu vaccines and that a formal request has been made to acquire more doses from the federal government reserve supply.
“We are trying to procure some from that. We’re also dealing with those global manufacturers directly to procure more supplies from places around the world,” said Elliott.
“Because people still want to get the flu shot, we are working to get those additional shots that people have indicated they want. But this is the biggest flu campaign Ontario has ever had in its history,” Elliott said.
Sutcliffe said it appears to be a similar story for the jurisdiction of the Sudbury health unit, where the increase in demand has been significant.
“Yes absolutely. I think this is a good news story in terms of people seeking to protect themselves, and not just themselves, but obviously more vulnerable family members, older people in their families and people with chronic health conditions. I don’t have the full tally so far, but we know that last year we distributed or administered about 45,000 doses,” said Sutcliffe.
“This year so far that number is about 50,000, so another 5,000 more. And we know there is another 3,000 doses coming our way.” She said this could be used by the health unit or be distributed to local health care providers. Either way, citizens will have to make appointments and wait for new doses to arrive.
Sutcliffe said there is a priority system in place for all and new doses of the influenza vaccine. She said the demands of long-term care homes and other vulnerable populations come first before any new doses are sent out to health care providers or administered by the health unit.
Sutcliffe said she could understand the frustration of citizens who relied on pharmacies, but said she was not advised of the distribution system or priorities for sending more vaccines to pharmacies.
She added that she has heard that more doses will soon be distributed to public health agencies across the province, but admitted she doesn’t know more than that.
“So I think what we have now is good news. There is more demand and good news that the province purchased more doses.”
Sutcliffe also said the health unit is watching the situation closely because it doesn’t want people being turned off by the idea of having to wait.
“Absolutely we are paying close attention to what we can do to try to improve or ensure people have access to this very important influenza vaccine. The best way to prevent it is to get your annual flu shot,” she said.
She added that she is hopeful that the precautions and safety measures people are taking against the COVID-19 pandemic will pay off by also helping to reduce the spreading of influenza.
Ontario reports 1,707 new COVID-19 cases today, and seven new deaths from the virus – ThinkPol
Ontario is reporting 1,707 new cases of COVID-19 today, and seven new deaths due to the virus.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says 727 new cases are in Toronto, 373 in Peel Region, and 168 cases in York Region.
The province also reported 299 new COVID-19 cases related to schools, including at least 253 among students.
Those bring the number of schools with a reported case to 737 out of Ontario’s 4,828 publicly funded schools.
In the province’s long-term care homes, 743 residents currently have COVID-19 and six new deaths have been reported today.
The province says 109 of its 626 long-term care homes are experiencing an outbreak.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.
The Canadian Press
Ontario schools account for significant number of new COVID-19 cases – insauga.com
Despite the fact Peel Region and Toronto are in lockdown, and Hamilton, Waterloo, Durham, Halton and York are facing stricter regulations, the number of new COVID-19 cases remains high.
According to the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC), between October 31 and November 18, the number of people infected in workplace outbreaks far exceeds the general community spread of the virus in the following workplace sectors: construction; schools and daycares; retail, restaurants and entertainment; and public services.
The number of cases in schools has increased by 1,865 cases for a cumulative total of 4,265 cases among students and education workers, as well 639 cases in childcare settings–this represents an 86.9-per-cent increase, the largest increase among workplace sectors.
The sector that saw the second-largest increase was retail, restaurants and entertainment, which saw cases increase by 71.65 per cent; followed by public services, which saw cases increase by 39.14 per cent.
Based on these findings, the number of work-place related cases has increased by 39.74 per cent in non-health-care settings during this three-week period.
Additionally, during the week of November 18, 35.4 per cent of new cases couldn’t be traced back to a source.
The number of cases with an unknown source of exposure has continued to increase during the second wave, as Public Health Units in hotspots have been unable to keep up with contact tracing.
Ottawa must be more transparent regarding COVID-19 vaccine rollout: expert – Lethbridge Herald
By Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press on November 30, 2020.
TORONTO, Kan. – As some provinces push for clarity on when they will receive their share of Canada’s COVID-19 vaccines, one expert says the government should be more transparent about the terms of its contracts with the companies making the shots.
Kerry Bowman, who teaches bioethics and global health at the University of Toronto, says it’s likely Ottawa doesn’t have the information the provinces are seeking regarding the timing and quantity of vaccine deliveries, particularly if its contracts with drugmakers are conditional.
But he says if that’s the case, the federal government should state it clearly or risk eroding public trust in its system.
Bowman says that while news that COVID-19 immunizations could begin in some countries in a matter of weeks is good for Canada in the long term, it will lead to widespread frustration in the near future if the country is lagging behind.
As well, he says any delay in immunization translates to more COVID-19 cases and deaths, and mounting economic strain.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford renewed his calls Monday for a clear delivery date for the province’s share of vaccines, stressing that “the clock is ticking” when it comes to fighting the novel coronavirus.
Ford said he was set to speak to Pfizer, one of the drugmakers that has entered into an agreement with Canada, Monday afternoon but expected to be told the information must come from Ottawa.
The premier cited reports that other countries, such as the United Kingdom, are on track to start COVID-19 immunizations soon, adding Ontarians “need answers.”
Meanwhile, the American biotech company Moderna said Monday the first 20 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine will be shipped to the United States next month.
The chairman of the American vaccine maker told the CBC on Sunday that Canada is near the front of the line to receive the 20 million doses it pre-ordered, confirming that the country’s early commitment to purchasing the shots means it will get its supply first.
Moderna is one of several companies to have already submitted partial data to a “rolling review” process offered by Health Canada. Rather than presenting regulators with a complete package of trial results, the would-be vaccine makers file data and findings as they become available. Canada has been looking at Moderna’s first results since mid-October.
The issue of when Canada will receive its orders came to the forefront last week when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the country will have to wait a bit because the first doses off the production lines will be used in the countries where they are made.
Trudeau has repeatedly defended his government’s vaccine procurement policy, saying Ottawa has secured multiple options for the country.
The federal government was pressed on the matter further during Monday’s question period, as some MPs called for greater transparency regarding vaccine rollout, noting other countries such as Australia have made their plans public.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu said the government has been working with the provinces and territories to ensure the plan is robust.
“Canada is well-served by the diversity of vaccines we have purchased early and in fact in great quantity. Canadians can be assured they too will have access to these vaccines that will bring us to the end of COVID-19,” she said.
Case counts remained high in several provinces Monday.
Ontario and Quebec, the two provinces with the bulk of COVID-19 cases, reported 1,746 and 1,333 new infections respectively, as well as eight and 23 new deaths related to the virus.
Toronto, one of two Ontario hot spots currently under lockdown, recorded a daily high of 643 new infections.
In Manitoba, health officials stressed residents must limit their contact with others in order to bring down the numbers, as the province reported 342 new cases and 11 additional deaths.
The provincial government imposed strict measures on business openings and public gatherings more than two weeks ago, but officials said the test positivity rate remains at 13 per cent.
Nunavut, however, will begin to lift the lockdown measures it enacted in mid-November on Wednesday, as more people recover from the illness.
Only Arviat, which has 86 active cases, will continue to be in lockdown for at least another two weeks, with travel restrictions in place, Nunavut officials said.
The territory reported four new cases Monday, bringing the total to 181.
Out east, six new infections have been recorded in New Brunswick today, while Newfoundland and Labrador reported one.
Nova Scotia reported 16 new cases of COVID-19, bringing its total of active cases to 138.
On Sunday, the federal government announced it will extend a series of travel restrictions meant to limit the spread of COVID-19 into January, in light of the steady rise in case counts across the country.
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and Hajdu said in a statement the measures, which were first enacted near the start of the global health crisis, would be in effect until Jan. 21, 2021, for travellers entering Canada from a country other than the United States.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.
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