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The evolving etiquette of asking about someone’s COVID-19 vaccine status – CityNews Montreal

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Nicole Hunt thought she was just making small talk with the next person in line when she asked whether he’d been vaccinated.

But she soon found she’d run afoul of the shifting social mores surrounding this prickly question.

Hunt said she and the stranger were waiting for ice cream when they started commiserating over how ready they were to be done with COVID-19 restrictions.

For the mother of four in Oakville, Ont., getting her first shot was a promising step toward that goal.

But when she asked her in-line interlocutor if he had his jab, Hunt discovered he held a starkly different view.

“It just went to this awkward silence of us looking at each other and realizing that maybe we don’t really have anything to say.”

The faux pas exemplifies the murky social minefield one must navigate to inquire about someone’s COVID-19 vaccine status.

Members of polite society are polarized over whether it’s appropriate to ask people if they’ve rolled up their sleeves.

Some Canadians balk at what they see as an intrusion into personal health matters, but others maintain that vaccine disclosure is part of pandemic decorum.

It’s all part of an evolving etiquette that pits personal safety concerns against respect for medical privacy, say experts, who recommend taking a delicate touch to the vaccine question in the interest of both public health and social harmony.

“Some people will want to call people out, but I encourage people to really invite people into conversations,” said Dionne Gesink, a professor of epidemiology at University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health.

Gesink said there are a few things you should ask yourself before putting the vaccine question to someone else.

First, she said, why are you asking the question? And what do you plan to do with the answer?

COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to prevent serious illness and death. But the science of how they affect the spread of the virus is still emerging, and even double-dosed individuals are still susceptible to infection.

The ongoing vaccine rollout has left Canadians with varying degrees of protection, said Gesink. Questions about vaccines should come from a place of concern not only for your personal health, but the safety of those around you.

Knowing someone’s immunization status can help people make informed decisions about how to mitigate the risks of in-person interaction through a spectrum of precautions, she said, including socializing outdoors, wearing masks and maintaining physical distance.

Under certain circumstances, people may have to set hard boundaries, such as not inviting someone to an indoor function.

But with the right framing, the vaccine question doesn’t have to be contentious, and can even bring people closer, she said.

A point-blank “are you vaccinated” can end a conversation with a curt yes or no, said Gesink. But posing open-ended questions, such as “what are your thoughts on vaccination,” can prompt revealing discussions.

“By asking these sensitive, personal questions, you are investing in the relationship … as well as protecting yourself.”

But Gesink cautioned against “dropping bombs” on unsuspecting strangers and acquaintances who may feel wary about sharing their health history with someone they hardly know.

She added that if there’s any ambiguity about someone’s vaccine status, it’s best practice to assume they’re not and protect yourself accordingly.

Thankfully, many Canadians are quite forthcoming _ if not effusive _ about the fact that they’re vaccinated, said University of Toronto bioethicist Kerry Bowman.

But he harbours serious reservations about pressuring people to divulge personal health information.

There are many reasons why someone might not be vaccinated, he said, such as not meeting the eligibility requirements, barriers to access or medical concerns.

“People can easily be put on trial as to why they don’t want to be vaccinated,” he said. “Do they really have to answer to the whole world?”

Ottawa-based etiquette expert Julie Blais Comeau noted that health is one the last remaining taboos in modern society, so it’s unsurprising that social protocols surrounding vaccines are so sensitive.

If you’re tempted to broach the question, Blais Comeau recommends pausing to contemplate the potential consequences if the interaction goes awry.

“From the perspective of the other person, could you be friend or foe?” said Blais Comeau. “If you could be perceived as foe, well, maybe it’s best not to ask.”

Consider the context of the relationship, she said. For example, with a professional colleague, power dynamics could be at play. In family situations, she warned the question poses the risk of inflaming long-standing tensions.

When it comes to entertaining, Blais Comeau suggested that rather than asking guests to tick off what shot they got in their RSVP, hosts should state their vaccine preferences upfront and ask attendees to accommodate them.

People should extend the same courtesy, respect and empathy that they expect from others, whatever their vaccine status, said Blais Comeau. And if discord arises, compassion is the best strategy to find resolution.

“It’s not the time to judge, shame or preach,” said Blais Comeau. “The magical word could end up being, I care about you.”

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Deadly rabbit disease found in Ontario for the 1st time – CBC.ca

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Two pet rabbits infected with a highly contagious virus that’s newly detected in Ontario have died, causing concern among veterinarians and pet owners.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said it’s the first time rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHDV-2) has been detected in Ontario. It previously was found in B.C. and Alberta. 

The virus is not known to cause disease in humans, according to both the United States Department of Agriculture and the CFIA.

The rabbits in the Ontario case were from the same household and previously healthy, according to Dr. Jamie McGill Worsley, a veterinarian in Forest in Lambton County. 

The rabbits quickly died. 

“This was devastating for a pet owner with no warning and initially no understanding,” she said, “As we did testing, we started to become more suspicious that maybe this [virus] was the case.”

Samples were sent to a lab. Earlier this month, the CFIA confirmed it was RHDV-2.

The source of the infection isn’t known, the agency said.

“Immediately following this, the CFIA placed a quarantine on the site,” the agency said in a statement. “An investigation has been completed and no high-risk contacts have been identified that could result in spread of the disease from this premise. The CFIA is collaborating with the province and continues to monitor the situation.”

The CFIA’s website says the virus is found in most European countries, Australia, New Zealand, Cuba and some parts of Asia and Africa, and there have been occasional outbreaks in the U.S. and Canada, in 2011, 2016 and 2018.

What is RHDV-2

According to the CFIA, the disease is highly contagious in wild and domestic rabbits. The virus doesn’t affect other species.

People can pick up the virus on their shoes — or even on their vehicle’s tires — through the feces of an infected rabbit, said McGill Worsley.

That’s one of the reasons there’s such concern, she said.

“It is very resilient in the environment. It’s very easy to spread around with microscopic amounts. And then, of course, the potential outcome of this virus, its impact on the rabbits, whether they’re wild or pet rabbits, is quite devastating,” said McGill Worsley, who has strengthened disinfection protocols at her clinic because of RHDV-2.

Dr. Jamie McGill Worsley of Forest Veterinary Clinic in Forest, Ont., shown with a pet rabbit at her clinic. McGill Worsley has strengthened disinfection protocols at her clinic because of RHDV-2. (Submitted by Jamie McGill Worsley )

The CFIA said infected rabbits usually show symptoms within one to five days. Symptoms include fever, loss of appetite and neurological symptoms such as difficulty walking.

“Death is common after a short period of illness. Death may also occur suddenly without signs,” the CFIA says in a fact sheet on its website.

Hazel Gabe of Ottawa is part of a Facebook group for rabbit owners where news of the virus has generated concern.

“People are really scared. People are very scared and nervous,” she said.

But for some, there’s a bit of relief, she said.

“Now that there’s been some cases in Ontario, even though we hate that some rabbits died and somebody probably lost their pet, but this means that maybe we will finally have access to the vaccine, because we’ve been asking for this for a while.”

 While other countries have vaccines that protect rabbits against the virus, they’re not readily available in Canada.

Hazel Gabe, shown with her pet rabbit, wants to see a vaccine against rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus become more widely available. (Sonya Varma/CBC)

In B.C., where there have been outbreaks, the government waited until there were a certain number of cases before offering an organized vaccine program.

McGill Worsley suspects it will be the same case in Ontario. But at this point, clinics have to request a special permit to import the vaccine from Spain or France, she said.

“It’s a bit of a process. I’ve worked part way through it myself … that way we can start to be able to protect rabbits once we have permission from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to bring those vaccines here.”

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Should I be worried about monkeypox? A doctor answers questions as the outbreak spreads – CBS News

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The World Health Organization said June 25 that monkeypox wasn’t yet a public health emergency of international concern. More than 4,000 cases have been reported worldwide, with about 250 in the U.S. And with public health officials unable to follow all chains of transmission, they’re likely undercounting cases. Everyone should be aware of its symptoms, how it spreads, and the risks of it getting worse.

Q: Should I be worried about monkeypox?

The American public is currently at low risk for monkeypox. It is spreading among men who have sex with men, but it is only a matter of time before it spreads to others. As of June 27, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control had reported 10 cases among women. Monkeypox is generally a mild disease but can be serious or even deadly for people who are immunocompromised, pregnant women, a fetus or newborn, women who are breastfeeding, young children, and people with severe skin diseases such as eczema.

But monkeypox could become endemic in the U.S. and around the world if it continues to spread unchecked.

Q: How does monkeypox spread?

Monkeypox is a viral infection, a close cousin of smallpox. But it causes a much milder disease.

It is transmitted through close contact, including sex, kissing, and massage — any kind of contact of the penis, vagina, anus, mouth, throat, or even skin. In the current outbreak, monkeypox has primarily been transmitted sexually.

Condoms and dental dams will reduce but won’t prevent all transmission because they protect only against transmission to and from the skin and mucosal surfaces that are covered by those devices. It’s important to know that the virus can enter broken skin and penetrate mucous membranes, like in the eyes, nose, mouth, genitalia, and anus. Scientists don’t know whether monkeypox can be transmitted through semen or vaginal fluid.

Monkeypox can be transmitted through respiratory droplets or “sprays” within a few feet, but this is not thought to be a particularly efficient mode of transmission. Whether monkeypox could be transmitted through aerosols, as covid-19 is, is unknown, but it hasn’t been documented so far.

It is not known whether monkeypox can be transmitted when someone doesn’t have symptoms.

Q: What are the common symptoms of monkeypox?

Symptoms of monkeypox may develop up to 21 days after exposure and can include fevers and chills, swollen lymph nodes, rash, and headaches.

It is not known whether monkeypox always shows any or all of those symptoms.

Experts currently think monkeypox, like smallpox, will always cause at least some of these symptoms, but that belief is based on pre-1980 science, before there were more sophisticated diagnostic tests.

Q: What does the monkeypox rash look like?

The monkeypox rash usually starts with red spots and then evolves into fluid-filled and then pus-filled bumps that may look like blisters or pimples. The bumps then open into sores and scab over. People with monkeypox should be considered infectious until after the sores scab over and fall off. Monkeypox sores are painful. The rash was often seen on palms and soles in the past, but many people in this outbreak have experienced external and internal lesions of the mouth, genitalia, and anus. People may also experience rectal pain or the sensation of needing to have a bowel movement when their bowels are empty.

Q: How do I get tested for monkeypox?

If you have symptoms of monkeypox, including oral, genital, or anal lesions, go to your nearest sexual health clinic for testing. A medical professional should swab any suspicious lesion for testing. There’s also emerging evidence that throat swabs may be useful in screening for monkeypox, but health officials in the U.S. are so far not recommending them.

People consult about monkeypox vaccination at a clinic in New York City on June 24, 2022.

Liao Pan/China News Service via Getty Images


Q: Is there a vaccine for monkeypox?

Yes. Two vaccines are effective in preventing monkeypox: the Jynneos vaccine and the ACAM2000 vaccine. The FDA has approved the Jynneos vaccine for preventing monkeypox and smallpox among people 18 and older. The ACAM2000 is FDA-approved to prevent smallpox. The U.S. is currently using only the Jynneos vaccine because it’s safer and has fewer side effects.

The Jynneos vaccine is safe. It has been tested in thousands of people, including people who are immunocompromised or have skin conditions. Common side effects of the Jynneos vaccine are similar to those of other vaccines and include fevers, fatigue, swollen glands, and irritation at the injection site.

The Jynneos vaccine is effective in preventing monkeypox disease up to four days after exposure and may reduce the severity of symptoms if given up to 14 days after exposure.

Q: Can I be vaccinated against monkeypox?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends vaccination against smallpox and monkeypox only for those at heightened risk: people who have had close contact with someone with monkeypox, as well as some health care workers, laboratory staffers, first responders, and members of the military who might come into contact with the affected.

Supplies of the Jynneos vaccine are limited. As of June 14, the strategic national stockpile held more than 72,000 doses. The U.S. government purchased 500,000 more doses this month, bringing the total number of doses bought to almost 2 million.


New York City expanding access to monkeypox vaccine as virus spreads across U.S.

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The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has started offering the Jynneos vaccine to gay and bisexual men, other men who have sex with men, and trans women who are age 18 and older and have had multiple or anonymous sex partners in the past 14 days. Other big cities, including San Francisco, are expected to do the same.

Q: What are other ways to lower the risk of monkeypox transmission?

The best way is to educate yourself and your sex partners about monkeypox. If you’re worried you might have monkeypox, get tested at a sexual health clinic. Many emergency rooms, urgent care centers, and other health care facilities may not be up to date on monkeypox. The CDC link to find the nearest sexual health clinic is https://gettested.cdc.gov/.

Abstain from sex if you or your partner has monkeypox. And remember that condoms and dental dams can reduce but not eliminate the risk of transmission. The CDC also warns about the risk of going to raves or other parties where lots of people are wearing little clothing and of saunas and sex clubs. It has other suggestions like washing sex toys and bedding.

Q: Is there a treatment for monkeypox?

There is no proven, safe treatment specifically for monkeypox. Most cases of monkeypox are mild and improve without treatment over a couple of weeks. Medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can be used to reduce fevers and muscle aches, and medications like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and opioids may be used for pain. In rare cases, some patients —such as immunocompromised people, pregnant women, a fetus or newborn, women who are breastfeeding, young children, and people with severe skin diseases — will develop more severe illness and may require more specific treatment. Doctors are trying experimental therapies like cidofovir, brincidofovir, tecovirimat, and vaccinia immune globulin. If administered early in the course of infection, the Jynneos and ACAM2000 vaccines may also help reduce the severity of disease.

Q: What misinformation is circulating about monkeypox?

Conspiracy theories about monkeypox abound. Monkeypox is not a hoax. Monkeypox is real. Covid vaccines can’t give you monkeypox. Monkeypox was not invented by Bill Gates or pharmaceutical companies. Monkeypox didn’t come from a lab in China or Ukraine. Migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border haven’t brought monkeypox into the U.S. Monkeypox isn’t a ploy to allow for mail-in ballots during elections. There is no need for a monkeypox vaccine mandate or lockdowns due to monkeypox.


Dr. Céline Gounder, an internist, epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist, is Senior Fellow and Editor-at-Large for Public Health at Kaiser Health News.

KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Together with Policy Analysis and Polling, KHN is one of the three major operating programs at KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed nonprofit organization providing information on health issues to the nation.

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Peel Region reports its first confirmed case of monkeypox – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Peel Region has its first confirmed case of monkeypox.

According to Peel Public Health, the person infected is an adult male in his 30s who lives in Mississauga.

The heath unit said the risk to the public remains low.

Monkeypox, which comes from the same virus family as smallpox, spreads though close contact with an infected individual. Most transmission happens through close contact with the skin lesions of monkeypox, but the virus can also be spread by large droplets or by sharing contaminated items.

To reduce risk of infection, people are advised to be cautious when engaging in intimate activities with others. Vaccination is available for high-risk contacts of cases and for those deemed at high risk of exposure to monkeypox.

Symptoms can include fever, headache, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, and a rash/lesions, which could appear on the face or genitals and then spread to other areas.

Anyone who develops these symptoms should contact their healthcare provider and avoid close contact with others until they have improved and rash/lesions have healed.

While most people recover on their own without treatment, those who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for monkeypox should self-monitor for symptoms, and contact PPH to see if they are eligible for vaccination.

The Mississauga case is at least the 34th confirmed case of the disease in Ontario, with dozens more under investigation.

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