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The Ottawa area's weekly COVID-19 vaccination checkup: Dec. 9 – CBC.ca

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Highlights:

  • Officials keep pushing vaccinations for holiday gatherings.
  • Third dose eligibility expands by age in Ontario.
  • Quebec opens third doses to more groups, with more ages next month.
  • Pfizer-BioNTech pushes a three-dose COVID-19 vaccination to fight omicron.

Every Thursday, CBC Ottawa brings you this roundup of COVID-19 vaccination developments throughout the region. You can find more information through links at the bottom of the page.

There have been more than 3.8 million doses administered in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region; nearly 80,000 in the last week. That count has risen again recently with child and third dose eligibility expanding.

Provincial picture

Top health officials say vaccines are a key tool to help keep people safe if they’re gathering indoors for the holidays.

Quebec and Ontario say people should mask and distance if they’re around unvaccinated people indoors, with Quebec’s public health director going further to recommend not to mix vaccinated and unvaccinated people

Ontario’s science table says too many Ontarians are unvaccinated and that means there’s still a risk of straining the health-care system in the coming weeks.

As a way to offer some sort of protection, Ontario is offering the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to adults “who have an allergy or contraindication to mRNA vaccines or at the request of an individual who has not yet been vaccinated.”

WATCH | Keep indoor gatherings small and vaccinated:

Vaccines work to reduce transmission, but holiday gatherings should still be small, expert says

5 days ago

Duration 1:01

Dr. Gerald Evans, an infectious disease specialist at Queen’s University, says many new cases still originate at private gatherings, meaning it’s wise to limit the number of close contacts despite the effectiveness of vaccines. 1:01

Ontario is also expanding third vaccine doses to people in their 50s and 60s as of Monday morning. People receiving dialysis are now eligible to receive a third vaccine dose if it has been 56 days since their second dose and people given some types of cell transplants or therapies should get another dose.

Quebec has expanded third-dose eligibility to health-care workers, people with chronic illnesses and other health issues, people from isolated and remote communities and pregnant people.

It’s not doing its next age-based expansion until January, which means it isn’t following recent national recommendations as closely as Ontario. Quebec has its own immunization committee.

WATCH | More information on Canada’s first homegrown COVID-19 vaccine: 

The importance of Canada’s 1st home-grown COVID-19 vaccine

1 day ago

Duration 4:52

Quebec company Medicago is getting ready to submit data about its COVID-19 vaccine for final regulatory approval, which is a significant step for the pandemic and Canada’s bio-pharmaceutical industry. 4:52

Eighty-seven per cent of Quebec residents age five and up have had at least one dose and 81 per cent are fully vaccinated.

About 85 per cent of Ontario residents born in 2016 and earlier have at least one vaccine dose, while about 81 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Pfizer and BioNTech are sharing preliminary findings that a three-shot course of their COVID-19 vaccine was able to neutralize the new omicron variant in a laboratory test. It’s the first official statement from vaccine manufacturers on the likely efficacy of their shot against the latest variant of concern.

WATCH | Pfizer-BioNTech’s research into omicron: 

Pfizer says 3 shots neutralize omicron variant in early findings

11 hours ago

Duration 2:30

Pfizer-BioNTech have reported early findings that show three doses of their COVID-19 vaccine are more effective than two when it comes to neutralizing the omicron variant in lab settings. The World Health Organization cautioned against jumping to conclusions, saying the unvaccinated should get their first doses before worrying about third shots. 2:30

Ottawa

OPH has released a list of after-school drop-in clinics for younger children. There are a few options every day until Dec. 23.

The capital still has regular and pop-up clinics for anyone eligible to get a first, second or third dose, as well as neighbourhood vaccine hubs, and it’s bringing mobile vaccine clinics to workplaces who request it.

More than 1.7 million doses have now been given to Ottawa residents.

Of the city’s total population of just over one million, 83 per cent of residents have had at least one dose, including 87 per cent of residents born in 2016 or earlier.

Seventy-seven per cent of the total population is fully vaccinated, as are 82 per cent of the population age five and older.

About 69,000 residents have had a third dose.

This combined bar and line graph shows vaccination numbers for Ottawa residents born in 2016 or earlier. Every age demographic starting at age 40, along with children age 12 to 17, is at least 90 per cent fully vaccinated. (Ottawa Public Health)

Western Quebec

Parents are urged to make an appointment through the online system, but walk-in appointments for children will be available Saturdays at the Palais des Congrès between 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

CISSSO continues to list recurring, mobile and pop-up clinics online. Third doses are by appointment only.

Signs tell people about Quebec’s proof-of-vaccination rules at Sommet Edelweiss in La Pêche, Que., last Saturday. Vaccine passports are required to access facilities with a chairlift in Quebec. (Félix Desroches/Radio-Canada)

The Outaouais has distributed about 632,000 doses — combined first, second and third — among a population of about 386,000.

A COVID-19 outbreak in Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg has disrupted its vaccination campaign.

Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington

The health unit is offering shots to younger kids and boosters at three main clinics by appointment only, with walk-ins for other kinds of shots on some days.

There are child-only clinics at a different high school in the region each week — this week the Kingston Secondary School Thursday afternoon. More child-only clinics are in Stone Mills Thursday and the Napanee Community Health Centre Thursday, Sunday and Monday

It shares the latest vaccination information online and on its social feeds.

About 88 per cent of its population age five and older has at least one vaccine dose and about 83 per cent of that group is fully vaccinated.

The region, with a population of about 213,000, has had more than 362,000 vaccine doses — combined first, second and third — given to residents.

About 33 per cent of the region’s approximately 13,000 newly eligible children have been vaccinated. About 19,000 residents have had a third dose.

Eastern Ontario Health Unit

The EOHU is accepting walk-ins for newly eligible children at certain clinics, on top of the appointments being offered at provincial clinics. Appointments are still preferred.

This weekend they’re at Rockland’s Jean-Marc Lalonde Arena Thursday afternoon and Cornwall Square on Friday.

Details for its vaccine clinics are regularly shared on its website and social media. It prefers people try a pharmacy or family doctor for their third dose before a community clinic.

More than 347,000 vaccine doses have been administered, including more than 11,800 third doses.

About 84 per cent of residents five and older are partially vaccinated, including about 20 per cent of its five-to-11 population, and about 80 per cent are fully vaccinated. 

WATCH | The medical officer of health’s weekly update: 

[embedded content]

Leeds, Grenville and Lanark

Because of the new demand from children and those seeking a third dose, the health unit is not offering walk-in vaccinations at this time. Clinic locations and hours are listed online and on social media; space for walk-ins may open up from time to time and they’ll share it online if it does.

There will be kids-only clinics in Brockville and Smiths Falls starting this weekend. Parents who qualify for a dose can get vaccinated at the same time as their child.

The health unit has given about 315,000 doses to residents, which now includes about 11,800 third doses.

It is seeing 95 per cent of its population age 12 and up with at least one dose and about 93 per cent of those residents have at least two doses.

About 1,900 children born between 2010 and 2016 have had a first dose, which is about 16 per cent of its total.

Hastings Prince Edward 

Appointments in Belleville and Picton are by appointment only. Bancroft’s vaccinations are being handled by the local health team.

There’s a clinic just for children age five to 11 Thursday afternoon at Trenton High School. One or two household members can get vaccinated without an appointment as long as the child has an appointment.

Other options are listed on the health unit’s website.

About 279,000 doses have been administered to this area’s residents, including about 11,600 third doses.

Eighty-four per cent of the local population age five and older has had at least has a first dose, including about 2,300 doses for kids age five to 11. Seventy-eight per cent of eligible residents are fully vaccinated.

Renfrew County

The health unit regularly shares pop-up and walk-in clinic information online. It includes a clinic for people age 12 and up in Cobden Thursday at noon and child-only clinics Friday and Saturday in Pembroke.

Renfrew County’s health unit has distributed more than 163,000 doses.

Just under 90 per cent of its population above age 12, including military at Garrison Petawawa, have at least a first dose and about 87 per cent are fully vaccinated. It isn’t yet sharing data about younger children.

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Omicron-specific vaccine likely to come too late to help in this wave: Sharma – Victoria News

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Health Canada’s chief medical adviser says variant-specific vaccines can be approved faster than the general ones first issued to combat COVID-19, but one targeting the Omicron strain still likely won’t be ready in time to help with the latest wave.

Dr. Supriya Sharma said what is really needed are vaccines that can possibly stop more than one variant at a time, including those yet to come.

Omicron became the dominant variant in Canada in just over two weeks, and the Public Health Agency of Canada said Friday it’s now believed to be responsible for more than 90 per cent of all COVID-19 cases.

Studies suggest two doses of the existing mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are not good at preventing infection from Omicron.

Multiple studies, however, suggest the vaccines are excellent at keeping symptoms mild, preventing hospitalizations, and shortening the stay and lowering the level of care for those who do get admitted to hospital. Fewer vaccinated Omicron patients, for example, need mechanical ventilation.

Both Pfizer and Moderna are working on new versions of their vaccines that specifically target the Omicron variant.

Moderna is hoping to get its product into trials early this year. Pfizer said it could have 100 million doses of theirs ready as early as March, and Canada has contracts for boosters from both companies that would include vaccines for variants too.

But Sharma said even with the expedited review process for vaccine variants, that’s “probably not” fast enough.

“By that time, based on what we’ve known about the Omicron wave, it might well and truly be through,” she said. “And then the question is always, ‘is there another variant that’s coming up?’”

The solution, she said, likely lies with vaccines that can target more than one variant at a time.

READ MORE: Omicron may seem unavoidable, but experts say ‘let it rip’ isn’t the solution

The COVID-19 vaccine technical committee of the World Health Organization said the same thing on Jan. 11, noting Omicron is the fifth variant of concern in two years and “is unlikely to be the last.”

Booster shots that heighten antibody development became the immediate response to Omicron for many governments, including Canada.

Dr. Srinivas Murthy, a British Columbia pediatrician and co-chair of the WHO’s clinical research committee on COVID-19, told The Canadian Press that boosters aren’t a long-term viable option.

“Boosting your way out of a pandemic is going to inevitably shoot you in the foot in the sense that you’re going to have a future variant that’s going to emerge that’s going to cause problems,” he said. “It’s going to evade your vaccines, and then you’re going to have to scramble.”

Omicron doesn’t evade the existing vaccines entirely but a future variant could, he said. The issue largely stems from the fact that the original vaccines train the body’s immune system to recognize what is called the spike protein found on the surface of a virus, and that spike protein is mutating significantly.

Think of the mutated spike protein as a bit of a disguise that makes it harder for the immune system to recognize the virus and mount a defence to kill it off.

Omicron has more than 50 mutations, and at least 36 are on the spike protein.

Multivalent vaccines that use the spike protein from more than one variant, or that target the genetic components of a virus rather than the spike protein, are possibly the ones that could offer protection for both this pandemic and the next novel coronavirus that emerges.

“It’s pan-coronavirus, where it’s looking at big broad neutralizing responses and you don’t have to update it every season and so on,” said Murthy. “That’s been the Holy Grail of flu vaccinology for the past number of decades. We haven’t achieved that yet, because flu is a bit tricky, but we think that it’s achievable for coronavirus, specifically.”

The United States Army has a version heading into Phase 2 trials that can attach multiple spike proteins. A vaccine with the specific spike proteins from all five COVID-19 variants of concern would likely be more successful, even against future variants, because they all share some of the same mutations and what one might miss another may catch.

Moderna is working on trials for multivalent vaccines using combinations of the spike proteins from the original virus and one of the variants, or two of the variants together. It’s not clear when they would be ready for use.

Sharma said even if the vaccines aren’t working as well against variants as they were against the original virus, to her “they’re still miraculous.”

“To have a vaccine that was developed that quickly, that still has, through multiple variants … with boosters, up to 70, 80 per cent effectiveness against serious disease, ailments, hospitalization and death,” she said. “That is miraculous for a new vaccine for a new virus.”

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press


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Canada approves Pfizer’s oral COVID-19 antiviral treatment, seeks supplies

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Canada on Monday approved Pfizer Inc’s oral antiviral treatment for mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 in people aged 18 and older but said supply shortages would keep doses from being made available immediately.

Infections and hospitalizations due the Omicron variant have been rising in Canada, forcing provinces to put in restrictions and the federal government to support impacted businesses.

“(This) is particularly important, as access to easy to use treatments could help to reduce the severity of COVID-19 in adults who become newly infected at high risk of progressing to serious illness,” said chief public health officer Theresa Tam.

Pfizer’s two-drug antiviral regimen, Paxlovid, was nearly 90% effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths in patients at high risk of severe illness, according to data from the company’s clinical trial.

It is meant to be taken at home for five days beginning shortly after onset of symptoms.

Ottawa said last month it had signed a deal with Pfizer for a million treatment courses, pending approval. But getting those supplies could face hurdles.

“While there is currently limited global supply of Paxlovid, we are working to firm up a delivery schedule with the intent of bringing treatment courses to Canada as quickly as possible,” Tam told a briefing.

Ontario, the most populous of the 10 provinces, is seeing signs that Omicron cases may have peaked, said chief medical officer Kieran Moore.

“I’m starting to have much more hope … the number of cases is decelerating instead of accelerating in terms of hospitalizations and (people admitted to) intensive care units,” he told an Ottawa radio station.

Official data show that as of Jan 8, 87.8% of Canadians aged 12 and above had received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The U.S. authorized the Pfizer treatment for people ages 12 and older last month.

Canada is still looking at whether to approve Merck & Co’s oral antiviral pill, molnupiravir, which had less impressive results than Paxlovid in its pivotal clinical trial.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; Editing by Franklin Paul and Bill Berkrot)

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January 16, 2022 coronavirus update for Oakville – Oakville News

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This is Oakville’s coronavirus update for Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022. As children head back to school tomorrow, the main takeaway from today’s COVID-19 update is the increase in the number of outbreaks in long-term care, retirement, and hospital facilities. OTMH is now dealing with two outbreaks as a new one was declared at 5 South, and the province has 231 hospitals recording ongoing outbreaks, an increase nice.

Hospital status

A new outbreak at OTMH was declared but not shown on the region’s update of Friday, Jan. 14, 2022. Halton does not provide new information on weekends or holidays. 

  • Oakville – 70 patients – plus 6
  • Halton – 126 patients – plus 10
  • Ontario – 3,595 patients – minus 362 (ICU 563 plus 19, Ventilators 327 plus 19)

Outbreaks

There are currently nine active outbreaks with 58 cases (LTC-41, retirement homes-13, hospitals-2) in Oakville. 

Ontario

Long-term care facilities status

  • 424 ongoing outbreaks -plus 9
  • 27,391 cases – plus 320
  • 39,06 resident deaths – plus 9

Retirement homes

  • 319 ongoing outbreaks – plus 16

Hospitals

  • 231 ongoing outbreaks – plus 16

Vaccination status

Halton 

  • 1st Dose (5+) – 90%
  • 2nd Dose (5+) – 83%
  • Boosters (18+) – 48%

Ontario administered 117,300 vaccinations

  • 1st Dose (5+) – 82%
  • 2nd Dose (5+) – 3%

Case status

The number of confirmed new cases in Oakville, Halton and Ontario is under-reported since the province restricted access to testing, limiting it to high-risk individuals, healthcare providers, and patients. 

Halton

  • 36,184 cases – plus 552 or 5,962.2 cases per million
  • 634.6 new weekly cases per 100,000, down 15.9 per cent from 2 weeks ago

Ontario

  • 948,086 total cases – plus 10,450 or 6,434.7 cases per million
  • 503.1 new weekly cases per 100,000, down 22.4 per cent from 2 weeks ago
  • 843,073 recoveries –  plus 15,317
  • 10,605 deaths – plus 40
  • 94,408 active cases – minus 4,907

**Vaccine booking: Halton continues to book first and second-dose vaccinations for all residents age five and older, plus third-dose boosters for all adults age 18 and up.

Parents must make booster doses and appointments for children in advance, but first and second doses for those 12 and up are available on a walk-in basis.

All vaccines approved for use in Canada effectively protect you against COVID-19 and all known variants of concern.

CLICK HERE to book a first, second or third vaccination appointment at a Halton Region vaccine clinic

The evidence is clear: vaccination is the best way to be protected. Local, provincial, national and international health units all affirm the same data that Canada’s approved vaccines effectively protect you from COVID-19 and significantly reduce your risks of getting sick, going to the hospital, and dying from the disease.

Pictured right is a graph from the Halton region showing how dramatically your risk of getting sick or being admitted to hospital is when vaccinated.

Sources: 

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