Three new clinics are set to open in Vancouver and Surrey for British Columbians suffering from long-term effects of COVID-19.
The clinics will open at St. Paul’s Hospital, Vancouver General Hospital, and the Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre in Surrey.
In addition to providing care for those suffering from lingering effects of the virus, the Provincial Health Services Authority said Friday that it will be developing knowledge and best practices for dealing with long-haul patients.
COVID-19 long-haulers are patients who have contracted the virus but continue to live with chronic symptoms months after tests reveal they’re virus-free.
“We know some people who recover from COVID-19 experience long-term health effects,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a release. “Through the dedication of a large team of experts and health leaders across the province, we are working to ensure that specialized care is available to British Columbians, when they need it.”
The struggles of COVID-19 ‘long-haulers’
The clinics will be staffed with specialists and health professionals with an extensive knowledge of the virus long-haulers, the province said.
The St. Paul’s clinic has already seen more than 160 post-COVID-19 patients, the province said.
“We want patients to feel like they are not alone,” physician lead and internist Dr. Jesse Grenier said in a release.
“We are here. We’re listening. With patient partners, researchers, specialists, and primary care physicians across many health authorities, we are working together to learn from and support one another to ensure that patients get the care they need.”
Three long-hauler clinics are also set to open in Alberta — two in Calgary and one in Edmonton.
Prior to the opening of these new clinics, the long-hauler patients were receiving care from a team of experts from Fraser Health, Providence Health Care, VCH, BC Centre for Disease Control, PHSA and several others.
An early study of COVID-19 long-haulers in B.C. showed more than half of participants had abnormal breathing tests three months after they first started feeling sick with COVID-19. Further examination with CT scans showed one in five had lung scarring, which is permanent damage that will lead to compromised lung function.
“COVID-19 presents a special opportunity for research — we are leveraging the unprecedented focus on a single threat to bring together investigators and patients, who would otherwise be isolated, to create and mobilize new insights to benefit our community and beyond,” Dr. Chris Carlsten, Vancouver Coastal Health Scientific Director of Legacy for Airway Health and professor of medicine and head of the division of respiratory medicine at UBC, said in a release.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Vaccination sites busy in Ontario regions offering COVID shots to seniors – KitchenerToday.com
TORONTO — Some Ontario seniors braved frigid temperatures Monday to get a COVID-19 vaccine as several regions in the province moved ahead with their plans to vaccinate the general public.
With the broad launch of a provincial booking portal still two weeks away, some local public health units used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments.
In York Region, where bookings opened Monday morning for shots that could be administered as early as the afternoon, dozens of seniors and their caregivers lined up outside a sports centre to get the vaccine.
Some huddled together for warmth – a winter weather advisory was in effect for the region – as the line to enter the centre in Richmond Hill moved slowly.
Hassan Abbas Kara was saving a place in line while his grandmother waited in a car.
“I don’t want her to wait in the cold, so it’s a little thing I can do right now to help her,” he said.
Atta Hussain, 82, said the process was “beautiful” and well organized, and expressed relief after receiving his shot.
“We thank everybody who is participating,” he said.
York Region said its vaccination clinics were fully booked just two hours after they started taking appointments. A spokesman said approximately 20,000 appointments were made Monday across five locations in the region.
Clinics were also offering shots to those 80 and older in Windsor-Essex County, and to those 85 and older at a hospital in Hamilton, where officials warned of long wait times amid high call volumes to its COVID-19 hotline.
Hamilton’s top doctor apologized for backlog on the phone line and asked people who don’t live in the city to not call about appointments.
The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal.
It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units.
When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that’s why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally.
“Some of them are already vaccinating the over-80-year-old people that are living within their regions,” Elliott said Monday. “I think that’s something that we should be celebrating not denigrating.”
Green party Leader Mike Schreiner said he’s happy some public health units are offering shots already, but argued it could cause issues later when health units that have already started making appointments on their own systems have to switch over to the provincial one.
The province also said Monday that it has asked the federal government for guidance on possibly extending the intervals between the first and second COVID-19 vaccine doses to four months.
It pointed to British Columbia’s decision to do so and said there’s growing evidence suggesting intervals between the Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses can be safely extended.
Monday also saw two Ontario regions – Thunder Bay and Simcoe Muskoka – return to lockdowns as a result of rising COVID-19 cases.
Restrictions on businesses and gatherings were loosened in seven other health units: Niagara Region, Chatham-Kent; Middlesex-London; Southwestern; Haldimand-Norfolk; Huron Perth; and Grey Bruce.
Municipal officials in Simcoe Muskoka raised concerns about pressure on small businesses and the effects of yet another lockdown on the public during a public meeting with the health unit on Monday.
The region’s top doctor said he’s heard concerns about the strict measures from people in areas with fewer cases. Dr. Charles Gardner said he’ll be in touch with the province’s chief medical officer about whether a full lockdown is required for the region.
In Thunder Bay, which entered a lockdown after reporting more COVID-19 cases in February than all of 2020, a local hospital reported it was expanding its COVID-19 and intensive care units to meet the needs of the community.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said the Public Health Agency of Canada was reviewing a funding application for an isolation site in Thunder Bay after the city said it could no longer afford to keep it running.
Ontario reported 1,023 new cases of COVID-19 and six more deaths from the virus on Monday.
– With files from Cole Burston
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021.
Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press
B.C. extends wait between COVID-19 vaccine doses to four months – News 1130
VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – B.C. has decided to extend the time between first and second COVID-19 vaccine doses.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says the interval between the two shots will now be four months.
Citing data from around the world, as well as in B.C., Henry says we are seeing immunity last at least four months after a person is given a first dose of the vaccines. The extension will apply to all three vaccines currently approved in Canada, made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca.
The decision to extend duration between first – second doses to 4 months DBH says came looking at data from around the world (UK, Israel) & here seeing the immunity lasts at least 4 months. Extension is for all three types of vaccine.#bcpoli @NEWS1130
— LizaYuzda (@LizaYuzda) March 1, 2021
“The important thing that we have learned is that these vaccines work, they give a very high level of protection, and that protection lasts for many months,” Henry said on Monday.
“In combination with the new vaccines that we have available, this gives us a very important and very real benefit to everybody here in B.C. That means we can move everybody up the list and more people will be protected sooner,” B.C.’s top doctor added, noting delaying the second shot “provides very high, real-world protection to more people sooner.”
Henry says health officials will be monitoring vaccine effectiveness going forward.
Word of the extension comes as the province unveiled dates for when the most senior British Columbians will begin to have access to the vaccines.
A call-in system to book vaccination appointments for Indigenous peoples aged 65 and up and other British Columbians aged 90 and up will open March 8, with clinics starting to run March 15.
Seniors aged 85 to 90 can start booking on March 15, for vaccinations starting a week later. Booking opens for those aged 80 to 85 open on March 22.
Admitting the challenges restrictions at long-term care homes have had on residents and their families, Henry says the province will be revisiting when restrictions can be decreased “given what we know now about how effective these vaccines are.”
-With files from Frances Yap
Data suggests everyone in BC will likely have first COVID-19 vaccine dose by July | News – Daily Hive
Every eligible person in BC will likely have their first COVID-19 vaccination by July, based on new provincial data unveiled on Monday.
During a press conference, health officials gave an update on the provincial COVID-19 vaccine rollout strategy. Officials announced that the window between the first and second doses of the two-dose vaccine has been extended to 16 weeks.
According to Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, the interval has been extended to 16 weeks because protection given by a first dose lasts for at least four months. Stretching the interval between the first and second dose will free up approximately 70,000 doses that will be used to expand coverage across BC.
This adjustment in the timeline means all British Columbians will be able to move up the priority list and get their first vaccination sooner, meaning second doses could start being rolled out en masse by July.
“We’re going to have a lot more come the third quarter and the summer months,” said Henry. “We will be starting on second-dose clinics in July, and we’re going to be re-jigging all of those time frames.”
Overall, she said, “this means that everybody moves up in line, and we’ll be focusing on second doses starting in the summer.”
Call-ins will begin on March 8, and vaccinations are scheduled to start on March 15. Each health authority across the province will have a unique call centre number and a number of available clinics where appointments can be made. People living in Fraser Health, however, will be able to book their appointments online.
In order to reduce the initial stress and volume on call lines, the general population over 80 years old will be divided into subgroups. People will be asked to only call in once they become eligible. Anyone who missed their week can book an appointment at any time — they will not lose their spot.
Seniors will be able to have family, friends, or people who provide additional support call and book an appointment for them.
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