A member of Ontario’s vaccine task force says that there will “absolutely” be some people jumping the line for COVID-19 vaccines in the second phase of the province’s rollout but he says the issue can be at least partly mitigated by having more family doctors administer shots.
The Doug Ford government has said that it will prioritize nearly three million people with pre-existing conditions as part of the next phase of its vaccine rollout but it has released few details on how it will identify those people and verify their medical history.
That has led to some concerns about queue-jumping, which could ultimately mean that the people most at risk of a severe outcome from COVID-19 have to wait longer for their shots.
“Listen it is not going to be perfect. Even if we have primary care expanded and in their clinics vaccinating individuals where they know their patients and they know who would be a good candidate for the first part of phase two and the second part of phase two that doesn’t fully solve this problem,” infectious disease specialist Dr. Issac Bogoch, who sits on Ontario’s vaccine task force, told CP24 on Tuesday morning. “There will be some honour system and you know what this isn’t perfect. There will be some people who jump the line, there will be, there absolutely will be. This is going to be a challenging thing to police.”
The Ford government has provided a list of 24 health conditions that would qualify residents for vaccines ahead of the general public and has broken them up into three categories – highest risk, high risk and at-risk.
Bogoch said that he doesn’t believe the issue of queue jumping will be a significant problem for the province, especially given the fact that the vaccines themselves will become a much less “limited resource” in the coming months.
But he said that the government will have to find some better ways to verify medical conditions and may have to “rely on peoples goodwill to wait their turn for vaccination” to a certain extent, as well.
“It is being billed as an 11 out of 10 problem when it probably is a two or three out of 10 problem,” he said.
Ministry says people with pre-existing conditions won’t be able to book appointments online
In a statement provided to CP24 on Tuesday, a spokesperson for Health Minister Christine Elliott said that planning is still underway on how the province will deal with people with pre-existing conditions.
The spokesperson, however, said that “these individuals will not typically be booking their appointment through the provincial online booking portal, or receive the vaccine at mass vaccination clinics.”
Instead, the spokesperson said that most of the vaccinations administered to people with pre-existing conditions will be “administered through other channels, such as specialty clinics or through their existing health care providers who already have the individual’s health records on hand.”
That would, in theory, negate the risk of so-called queue jumping.
But it remains to be seen how far the province will go when it comes to verifying information about medical conditions, especially for those people who may not have family doctors.
“Maybe we would prefer they have some proven evidence? I would rather have people say, if you have a condition, and it is personal private information, it’s their health information,” Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams conceded during an interview with CTV News Toronto on Tuesday. “We trust them to say that and to declare that. If they want to bring some evidence of that, what would they bring?”
Williams said that he understands that some people may be included to try to “bypass the system and get around the system” but he said that they should remember that the priority list has been set up the way it has to save lives.
Of course, some people are still concerned about whether the most vulnerable people will indeed receive their shots first in the second wave, especially when you look at the sheer number of Ontarians with pre-existing conditions.
Speaking with reporters at Queen’s Park on Tuesday, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said that the government had “literally a year to put together something that people could have confidence in” but still seems to be “making things up on the fly.”
She said that the lack of a concrete verification system could mean that “the people who are perhaps going to have to stop people from getting vaccines inappropriately or at the wrong time is the frontline providers.”
Dr. Michael Warner, the medical director of critical care at Michael Garron Hospital, also raised some concerns in an interview with CP24 on Tuesday. He said that the issue is that the government has set up a system, where there is “is no specificity in terms of what a respiratory disease is, what heart disease means.”
That, he warned, could lead to widespread abuse, especially if family doctors are kept out of the process.
“It means that the people who need the vaccines the most will not be triaged to get them earlier than others and also family doctors have been cut out of the entire process,” he said. “They are the ones best equipped to triage their own patients assuming we have carve outs for those without family doctors to make sure they get access too.”
Ontario has said that it hopes to vaccinate an additional 7.5 million residents as part of the second phase of its vaccine rollout.
Other priority groups include older adults, essential workers and those who cannot work from home, along with residents and staff in congregate settings.
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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