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Why getting a flu shot this year will help your hospital in COVID battle –



Getting a flu shot can help ensure our hospitals are able to care for patients seriously ill with COVID-19 as the second wave of cases hits the community, says York Region’s medical officer of health.

“By getting the flu shot, we will be reducing the number of flu-associated hospitalizations and so keeping health-care capacity available for COVID-related cases,” said Dr. Karim Kurji in a video update today. 

Hospital occupancy levels are rising quickly in Ontario and the majority of the stand-by capacity created at the onset of the pandemic last spring has already been filled, Ontario Hospital Association president and CEO Anthony Dale said in a statement last week urging the province bring back stage 2 restrictions to Toronto, all GTA regions and Ottawa. 

“In addition, we will be reducing the burden on the testing system, as it is often difficult to distinguish between flu and COVID-19,” Kurji added.

Ontario reported a backlog of 68,006 tests awaiting results, with more than 38,000 new tests processed Oct. 4. In York Region, record numbers, above 15,000 last week alone, are also being processed.

Some symptoms of influenza that are similar to those for COVID include fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue, aches and pains and loss of appetite.

COVID is much more deadly than the flu, but the flu can be serious and even kill, health experts say. It’s especially dangerous for the very old, very young, and individuals with medical conditions such as asthma and weakened immune systems.

Getting the flu vaccine won’t protect against the coronavirus, only the flu. However, getting the flu could make you more vulnerable to other viruses like COVID. 

In the first wave of COVID-19 cases, particularly in long-term care facilities, many flu-related outbreaks led to COVID-19 outbreaks, Kurji said.

Health Minister Christine Elliott has warned that the second wave will be “more complicated and more difficult” than the first in part because of the approaching flu season.

While the vaccine has not yet been released — the province has not provided a date — it will be available at physician offices, pharmacies (for individuals five years or older) and public clinics at no cost, likely by mid-October.

The Ontario government is spending almost $70 million to purchase flu vaccines for “a robust and expanded campaign this year”, and will spend an additional $26.5 million to purchase more vaccine doses if required and if they’re available, according to a news release.

The province is ordering 5.1 million flu vaccine doses in partnership with the federal government and other provinces and territories, 700,000 more than the approximated usage last year. This includes 1.3 million high-dose vaccine doses for seniors, especially those with pre-existing health conditions.

Distribution of the flu vaccine will be prioritized for vulnerable populations in long-term care homes, hospitals and retirement homes.

For the first time, high-dose flu vaccines for seniors will be made available at participating pharmacies.

It takes two weeks before the flu vaccine boosts your immunity, so the sooner you get it, the better.

York Region Public Health is considering holding drive-thru flu immunization clinics or mass flu immunization clinics as a pilot project for providing COVID-19 vaccines when they become available, Dr. Kurji said.

Everyone over the age of six months is encouraged to get their flu shots, Kurji said.

Interest in flu immunization has already spiked this year, according to a report by independent pharmacy chain Pharmasave. 

Of 7,000 people surveyed in Ontario and Atlantic Canada, 86 per cent said they planned to get a flu shot this year, compared to 78 per cent who said they were immunized last year. 

“Based on the survey, as well as the surge of inquiries our pharmacies are receiving on a daily basis, it’s clear that there’s a collective uneasiness among Canadians about their health as we head into the colder weather,” said Jaspreet Chager, senior manager, pharmacy innovation of Pharmasave East.

“In fact, more than half (56 per cent) of those surveyed who said COVID-19 has affected their flu shot decision said they’re feeling more nervous about getting sick this year, so they plan to get vaccinated,” she said.

Pharmacies are likely to implement additional procedures for this year’s flu shots, such as requiring appointments and consent forms. 

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COVID-19: Central zone active cases up Monday – Ponoka News – Ponoka News



Alberta confirmed 1,440 COVID-19 cases from over the weekend and seven additional deaths.

The cases are: 364 on Friday, 572 on Saturday and 504 on Sunday. The Saturday case number is another record for the province.

That’s identifying, on average, 480 COVID-19 cases over the weekend, said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health.

She said one of the challenges is to find a balance between minimizing the risk of COVID-19 and minimizing the risk of harms of restrictions.

“This requires us to keep the spread of COVID-19 manageable. We’ve now crossed a tipping point and are losing the balance we’ve been seeking,” said Hinshaw.

The government imposed new temporary mandatory limits Monday – of 15 people – at most social gatherings for the City of Calgary and Edmonton.

In total, 118 people in Alberta are in hospitals with 16 in intensive care.

The total number of active cases in the province sat at 4,477 Monday afternoon up 826 from Friday’s 3,651.

The number of active cases in the central zone jumped to 162 from Friday’s 126. There are three people in hospital in the local zone with none in intensive care.

To date, there have been 953 COVID-19 cases confirmed in the local zone with 783 recoveries.

The deaths were in Edmonton and Calgary zones. The virus-death toll is at 307.

The City of Red Deer’s active cases sits at 39 up from Friday’s 31.

A letter was sent Monday to families alerting them of a positive case of the virus at Gateway Christian School in Red Deer.

On Monday, Red Deer’s Hunting Hills High School was on province’s watch list.

Red Deer County had 10 active cases Monday afternoon, two in Town of Sylvan Lake, six in Lacombe County, one in the City of Lacombe, 45 in Ponoka County, two in County of Wetaskiwin, and 11 in City of Wetaskiwin.

There were two active cases in the Town of Olds, three in Clearwater County, five in Kneehill County, four in Camrose County, six in City of Camrose and one in Town of Drumheller.

There are no active cases in Mountain View County, Starland County and County of Stettler.

One of the challenges of the increasing active case numbers is it creates pressure on COVID-19 response including contact-tracing, said Hinshaw.

She said Alberta is also challenged between polarizing views on the virus: on one hand “we have to drive to zero cases” and on another “COVID is a mild illness for most so we should let it spread freely and pursue herd immunity.”

“COVID is a novel disease that is not just the flu,” Hinshaw said. “It has the ability to overwhelm our health system and weaken essential services if we let it do so.”

She encouraged Albertans to maintain respectful dialogue and to not let COVID-19 divide the province.

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Mandatory gathering restrictions return to Edmonton, Calgary as Alberta sets new single-day COVID-19 record | Watch News Videos Online –



There were 1,440 new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in Alberta over the weekend. That prompted Dr. Deena Hinshaw to re-introduce limits of 15 people or less at social gatherings, saying we have now “crossed a tipping point.” Julia Wong has the details from Monday’s health update.

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St. Albert's COVID-19 active case count hits 124 – St. Albert TODAY



The number of St. Albertans currently diagnosed with COVID-19 grew to 124 cases over the weekend, marking the first time the city’s active case count has risen above 100.

This represents an increase of 33 people from Friday, Oct. 23. A total of 269 St. Albertans have been confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 to date. Of those, 143 people have recovered. Two people have died.

The province reported 1,440 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, including a record 572 cases reported on Saturday. With this increase, Alberta announced on Monday new mandatory limits on gatherings of up to 15 people in Edmonton and Calgary. 

“I don’t ask that you fear COVID-19, but that you respect it. COVID is a novel disease that is not just the flu – it has the ability to overwhelm our health system and weaken essential services if we let it do so,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health, during Monday’s update. 

“Respecting COVID-19 means taking public health advice seriously, and not only taking care of ourselves, but also our communities by preventing transmission,”

There are currently 4,477 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta. Of those, 2,179 active cases are recorded in the Edmonton zone. To date, 20,949 Albertans have recovered from COVID-19.

There are 118 people in hospital due to COVID-19, including 16 in intensive care. There were seven additional deaths reported since Oct. 23.

There are 276 active cases and 1,306 recovered cases at continuing care facilities. Of those, 186 residents have died.

Over the last two weeks in Edmonton and Calgary, social gatherings made up just 15 per cent of all outbreaks, but almost a third of all outbreak-related cases, Hinshaw said. Meanwhile, workplace outbreaks made up about 15 per cent of outbreaks and outbreak-related cases. 

Just six per cent of all COVID-19 cases in those aged 5 to 19 since Sept. 1 have been acquired at school, Hinshaw said. This indicates schools are not a main driver of community transmission, but rising community transmission is resulting in more school exposures, she said. 

Hinshaw said the province is in a “crucial” stage right now to reduce the rate of growth of COVID-19 cases. 

“You have heard me say many times that we need to achieve a balance between minimizing the risk of COVID-19 and minimizing the risk of harms of restrictions,” she said.  

“This requires us to keep the spread of COVID-19 manageable. We have now crossed a tipping point and are losing the balance we have been seeking. This weekend’s COVID-19 numbers tell the story clearly. We identified on average 480 cases of COVID-19 per day over the weekend.”


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