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robed men fighting with knives

March 4, 2021 - Dr. Archer's Update on COVID-19 response from the DOM and Medicine Program

Headlines

All patients admitted to KHSC will undergo Covid-19 testing

1) Vaccination in Kingston: Celebrate the Ides of March (click here)

2) Vaccination of frontline health care workers at KHSC: Team Vaccine rocks!

3) All about COVID-19 Vaccines: 

  • Updated FAQs about vaccination including new FAQ 1): Which COVID-19 Vaccines have been approved by Health Canada? 

4) KFL&A COVID-19 rates remain amongst the lowest in the province with 17 active cases in our region and 1 in prison (see update from KFL& A Public Health)

5) Ontario infection rates remain <1000/day and test positivity rate remains low at 2.1% but one third of positive tests are due to N501Y mutation variants.

6) Canada’s COVID-19 epidemic continues to improve: There have been 875,559 total cases with 2,811 new cases yesterday. There were no decreases in the new case rate but active cases were down (-2%), as were hospitalizations (-3%) and deaths (-20%) (click here) (click here). 

7) The global pandemic (click here): 

8) Improvement in COVID-19 in Ontario’s Long Term Care facilities (LTC)-evidence vaccines working: click here

________________________________________

1) Vaccination in Kingston: Celebrate Ides of March (click here)

drawing of many robed men fighting some with knives

The Death of Julius Caesar (1806) by Vincenzo Camuccini

What is the Ides of March you ask? That’s the date on which Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC. Caesar was stabbed to death at a meeting of the Senate. It is usually cited as a bad day, one to be fearful of!

Fast forward a couple of millennia and the Ides of March is a date for good news: Ontario’s vaccine portal launch on the Ides of March, March 15th. This will be a great day for residents of Kingston and elsewhere in Ontario. That day the process of vaccinating people over age 80 (and indigenous people over age 55 years) will begin. It will mark a switch from waiting to being invited to a vaccination to one in which you proactively can book your own vaccine (click here). The Ontario plan calls for seniors to be vaccinated in waves based on five-year age increments, such that 60-year-olds get the vaccine in July. General Hillier, who leads the provincial vaccine program, has indicated that residents will be notified about the availability of vaccines through media announcements, flyers delivered to homes and calls from health units. 

KFL&A has asked the public to be patient since vaccines are not yet available to be booked. In an article in the Whig Standard today Public Health are quoted as saying (click here):“We understand that residents of KFL&A are ready and eager to receive their COVID-19 vaccine,” a statement from the health unit on Wednesday afternoon said. “Our phone lines at KFL&A Public Health and at local COVID-19 vaccine clinics are experiencing extremely high volumes of calls. Please do not call KFL&A Public Health or any of our area COVID-19 vaccine clinics for appointment or eligibility information. Please do not go to COVID-19 vaccine clinics without an appointment.”Appointments on March 15 will be limited, the news release from public health said. “There will be a limited number of bookings available as appointments are based on the supply of vaccine we receive from the Province of Ontario,”

2) Vaccination of frontline health care workers at KHSC: Team Vaccine rocks! 

As of today, KHSC has been allotted approximately 3,500 vaccine doses by KFL&A Public Health. The dashboard below shows the amazing job Team Vaccine has done. They have issued 4126 invitations to health-care workers (HCWs), people who are in Phases 1-4 of the MOHLTC’s priority grid. Currently they have booked 3211 people to be vaccinated by weeks end. 1691 KHSC health care workers (staff, trainees, faculty) have already received their first doses of vaccine. These numbers change daily, even hourly. Stay tuned for more good news as Team Vaccine moves on to folks in phases 5-8 (when supply allows).

screenshot zoom call with pictures of participants down the  right side of the computer screen

Our new dashboard (draft version). In a snapshot from today’s briefing from Incident Command (the group that has led our COVID-19 response from day one) see at right (top to bottom): Dr. Gerald Evans, who leads IPAC and has been instrumental in guiding us through the pandemic, Mr. Troy Jones, Chief Operating Officer, KHSC and Chair of Incident Command, who has led and coordinated the KHSC response to COVID-19, and Ms. Brenda Carter, VP KHSC who leads Team Vaccine. Also Kudos to Lori Van Manen and her team and Chris Gillies and his team for coordinating a very smooth vaccine roll-out.

Your order in the KHSC vaccine queue is not dependent on whether you are staff, faculty or traineerather it is based on where you work and the associated provincial risk ranking. All who work in an area prioritized for vaccination (be they employees, physicians, learners, contracted staff or volunteers who regularly work in or provide care in an area) will receive an vaccine invitation at roughly the same time. Check here to see the order of vaccination for people working in KHSC (click here).

Once your group is ready to be vaccinated you will get an email inviting you to accept your vaccine. The invitation takes you to a site where you select an appointment time. You will then be asked to show up at the vaccination site (Burr gymnasium) 10 minutes before your vaccine time. Please make sure you check your KHSC email as the vaccine team will be sending out appointment invitations by email and appointments are booked on a first come first serve basis for people within your vaccine group.

For physicians the notice is sent to their “preferred” email. Please ensure the hospital has you correct email address (this should be listed on you annual credentialing document and updated each year at reappointment if it changes).

screenshot of confirmation of booked appt email green circled checkmark  and the word DONE! underneath

The KHSC COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic is located at KHSC’s Kingston General Hospital site George St Entrance

Instructions: 

  • Please wear your mask.
  • Bring your workplace ID to verify eligibility upon arrival
  • Also Bring your:
  1. Completed paper consent form
  2. Completed Pre-screening
  3. Health card - you are required to bring your health card or bring another form of a government issued-photo ID such as a driver’s license, passport, Status Card or other provincial health cards.
  • Please arrive on time but do not arrive more than 10 minutes before your appointment.
  • Give yourself 30 minutes to complete the vaccination process.
  • Wear a loose-fitting top or a t-shirt so that the health care provider can easily access your arm for the vaccination.

A few reminders about the reality of the vaccine program. The rate of vaccine roll out is largely a function of vaccine supply, rather than our capacity to vaccinate, and this will be true at least for the next 1-2 months, despite an improving supply of vaccines. I have heard concerns from a number of high-minded physicians about concern about the ethics and optics of them receiving a vaccine before others (staff, co-workers, family members etc.). This angst is understandable. For those in the vaccine vanguard who are concerned about “going early” here is my advice:

  1. We don’t control the order of vaccinationand so if you are in the first group you should definitely take the offered vaccine. Everyone will understand that you did not lobby for a vaccine; you were assigned because of your role/risk etc. In fact by following protocol you are serving as a positive role model for people, indicating your confidence in the vaccine and your willingness to abide by Ontario’s vaccine plan.
  2. Once we vaccinate all the people in your priority group we will then be authorized to go to the next priority group. Thus, by getting promptly vaccinated you are speeding things up for those in the next highest priority group.
  3. While you can decline vaccination you can’t give your vaccine to someone else. Therefore it makes no sense to decline vaccination based on the understandable desire to “help others”.
  4. Canada’s vaccine supply is ramping up quickly and we will soon have adequate vaccine supply to vaccinate people in tiers 2-8 of Ontario Health’s vaccine hierarchy. 
  5. In 2021 all people willing to be vaccinated will be vaccinated! No person or government has a perfect strategy. Let’s celebrate the success in creating a robust local vaccine program and not focus too much on the order in which these vaccines are rolled out.
  6. It is our responsibility to promptly respond to the call to get vaccinated (i.e. once appointments begin please change your schedules to meet the vaccination schedule). Vaccination requires only 30 minutes your day and it would be impossible to customize schedules for every practitioner.

3) Vaccination in Ontario (click here)

For a summary of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine plan I refer you to this government of Ontario resource (click here). I will not pile on; but in general the opinion is that we are not proceeding fast enough or with enough clarity or urgency. Counterbalancing that, it is clear that the main problem is lack of vaccine supply. The first graphic shows the progress to date: essentially 5% of the population have had at least 1 vaccine dose.

memo of covid vaccines status picture of needle going into arm

The next graphic shows the plan for the other 95% of the population. It indicates that by July we expect to have 5.8 million vaccines delivered. We are currently in Phase 1. 

Vaccines are a) not approved for people under agree 16 years (~3 million) and b) ~10% of the population will likely refuse the vaccine (a guess but this could be ~1.4 million people). This Ontario plan predicts that ~6 million of 10 million eligible/willing adults will be vaccinated by the end of July (60%). After July ongoing vaccinations are planned. This plan could accelerate with more vaccines (especially if we approve and receive the one shot J&J vaccines which simplify and accelerate the vaccination process).

colourful graphic showing distribution plan for vaccine

 Here are answers to some updated FAQs with answers to common questions about the COVID-19 vaccines.

faceless grey human figure with orange question marks circling

FAQ 1) Which COVID-19 Vaccines have been approved by Health Canada? Currently Canada has 3 approved vaccines: Pfizer, Moderna, and Astra-Zeneca (as of last week). The Astra Zeneca vaccine was approved on Friday and may arrive as soon as Wednesday (click here). Canada is expecting 445,000 doses of this vaccine this week. The vaccine appears to prevent COVID-19 spread and severe COVID-19 pneumonia and death; however, it has the lowest effectiveness overall (62% protection). The J&J vaccine was just approved by the FDA in the USA (click here). It has not been approved in Canada yet but this is expected to occur in the next 2-3 weeks. The J&J vaccine has several advantages. In a study with people in 3 continents one dose of J&J was 85 per cent protective against the most severe COVID-19 illness and the safety profile was as good as other vaccines. The J&J vaccine is a single shot vaccine (unlike two shots for Pfizer and Moderna). In addition it can be stored in a simple office refrigerator, allowing it to be rapidly deployed in the community. The bottom line: All approved vaccines are protective against severe adverse outcomes and I would advise you to take the first vaccine you are offered!

FAQ 2) Does the vaccine work against new variants (mutations) in the SARS-CoV2 virus? Short answer is a qualified YES. The vaccines work albeit not quite as well for the variants. In the 144,000 participants in all randomized clinical trials of vaccines to date, those receiving any active vaccine had only 3 cases of severe COVID-19 (vs 37 in the control group). There were no deaths in people who were vaccinated with any of the vaccines versus 5 deaths in the control group. Even though absolute protection is slightly less for UK and South African variants the vaccines (including the AstraZeneca vaccine and J&J) prevent serious adverse outcomes (like hospitalization and death). Thus, despite variant viruses the vaccines are lifesavers!

FAQ 3) I’m on a blood thinner, can I be vaccinated for COVID-19? Short answer YES. Here is a more detailed answer from an Canadian agency with expertise on the use of blood thinners, Thrombosis Canada

memo from Thrombosis Canada

FAQ 4) I have a history of allergic reactions, can I be vaccinated for COVID-19? Short answer YES. Out of ~1.8 million vaccinations there have only been 21 reported episodes of anaphylaxis (the most serious type of allergic reaction). Most (70%) of these events occurred within 15 minutes of the vaccine (which is why you will be monitored for this period of time post vaccine). There were also 83 cases of non-anaphylaxis allergic reaction after Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination with symptom onset within a 0–1-day risk window. Most (87%) of these allergic reactions were classified as nonserious. Thus, the risk of severe allergic reactions to the Pfizer vaccine are low and manageable. Allergy testing is NOT necessary prior to COVID-19 vaccination even in people with history of allergies. It is important note that none of the people who developed anaphylaxis after vaccination died and most did not have a prior history of anaphylaxis (see table below). The incidence of anaphylaxis is lower still with the Moderna vaccine.

The adverse effects of the COVID-19 vaccines in clinical trials are similar in vaccinated people vs people who got a placebo-saline injection except for: local pain at the vaccine site and increased muscle ache and headache, all of which were more common with the vaccine but were short-term (see below). This is a very good safety profile relative to other vaccines.

table listing vaccine side effects of Pfizer vs placebo

The CDC does advise against the use of the two mRNA vaccines for a very select group of people with the following allergy histories (click here):

  • Severe allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) after a previous dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine or any of its components
  • Immediate allergic reaction of any severity to a previous dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine or any of its components (including polyethylene glycol [PEG])*
  • Immediate allergic reaction of any severity to polysorbate (due to potential cross-reactive hypersensitivity with the vaccine ingredient PEG)*

FAQ 5) I’m immunosuppressed, should I get vaccinated? This question has a less clear answer. First, be reassured is no virus (dead or alive) in the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines so it is not possible for a person to get infected from the vaccine. However immunosuppressed people were not included in the initial clinical trials. That said, they probably are safe to be vaccinated but this is more a matter of expert opinion. In Canada the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) currently advises that the COVID-19 vaccine should not be offered to populations excluded from clinical trials “until further evidence is available.” However, they also say “an immunosuppressed person or those with an autoimmune disorder can still be vaccinated if a risk assessment deems that the benefits of vaccine outweigh the potential risks for the individual.” (click here).

The British Society for Immunology recently issued a statement indicating that vaccination is safe in immunosuppressed people (click here), albeit the resulting immune response may be weaker. They remind us that because there is no virus in the vaccine there is absolutely no risk of acquiring COVID-19 from the vaccine. Dr. Mike Beyak (gastroenterology) nicely summarized evidence from a registry of ~4500 patients who were immunosuppressed for their inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis). There was no increased risk of contracting COVID-19 in these 4500 patients. Apart for patients on prednisone, there was also no increased complications from COVID-19 when it occurred. Interestingly, some biologic therapies (antibody treatments for IBD) actually appear to reduce adverse outcomes in IBD patients who contracted COVID-19. This is not surprising since the truly bad outcomes in COVID-19 seem to occur in people who mount a hyper-aggressive immune response. Overall these data are good news for our many patients with rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and IBD who are on immunosuppressive therapies. However, since these people were not included in the vaccine clinical trials, it is advised they consult the physicians/clinic that is managing their care to inform their vaccine decision.

FAQ 6) How long can I wait after my first dose to get a second vaccine dose? It appears a second dose at day 42 is as effective in producing a neutralizing antibody response as when the dose is given at day 21 (the normal interval from dose 1). This more lenient 42-day protocol has been approved by Health Canada.

needle and syringe drawing vaccine from a bottle

FAQ 7) Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccines? This answer is simple-NO! None of the approved vaccines in Canada contain the virus itself. They do not contain live virus; they do not contain dead virus. Canada’s approved vaccines (from Pfizer and Moderna) contain only the messenger RNA (genetic code) to allow you cells to make the viral spike protein which then triggers your immune cells to build anti-spike antibodies which protect you. The Astra Zeneca vaccine is much the same but delivers the SARS-CoV-2 spike proteingene via a chimpanzee adenovirus-vector. Again, there is no virus (not dead; not alive) in this vaccine (click here). So, while you might get a sore arm or a fever from vaccination this is just your immune system responding as it should; there is no chance of getting COVID-19. Obviously one could contract COVID-19 around the time of vaccination the normal way, before the vaccination’s protection develops (i.e. in the first 2 weeks after vaccination). 

FAQ 8) Are vaccines safe? Yes, serious adverse effects of vaccines are rare (occurring in only 167 of 1.4 million Canadians vaccinated).Most people get (at worst) sore arm at the injection site, fatigue, or fever, all signs the immune system is being activated. Based on the clinical trials and experience in millions of people who have been vaccinated world-wide we can be reassured of vaccine safety and efficacy. All the side effects (called adverse events and abbreviated AEFI) are tracked and reported by the government of Canada (see below). (click here) (no update since Feb 19th unfortunately).

numbers in boxes with text re what you need to know about covid vaccines

FAQ 9) Is it safe to increase the time span between dose 1 and 2 of the COVID-19 vaccine? Most vaccines are given with an initial dose and a booster dose 3 months later. The reason the COVID-19 vaccine regimen initially specified a shorter interval was simply the rapid pace of the clinical trials which compressed the vaccination interval. Regulators approved the vaccine based on the information that came from these trials. With time it is now clear that spacing out the interval to 40 days (and longer) is safe and effective. This longer interval between vaccines allows more people to get the first dose asap and as the data have shown, the first dose yields substantial immunity within 1-2 weeks.

4) KFL&A COVID-19 rates remain amongst the lowest in the province with 17 active cases in our region and 1 case in prison (see update from KFL& A Public Health)The total number of cases in KFL&A since the pandemic began is 733, not counting the prison outbreak. This is up 13 cases since Monday and one new case is a variant of concern (i.e. possible mutant virus). 

One inmate at Millhaven Institution’s maximum-security unit has recently tested positive for COVID-19. It is the first case of the virus at the institution, and currently Millhaven has the only active inmate case of COVID-19 among federal institutions in Ontario (click here). The Joyceville Institution outbreak of 160 inmates ended on Jan. 29 and accounted for 89 % (179) of all Ontario cases of COVID-19 among inmates. Three cases have been linked with individuals associated with Queen’s University since March 1 (click here).

There has only been one death of a KFL&A resident since the pandemic began. There is only 1 COVID-19 patient hospitalized at KGH.There are 14 active cases in KFL&A, 7 less than last week However, there are now a total of 66 active cases in South Eastern Ontario, up 13 from 2 weeks ago Active cases include: KFL&A=17 cases, Hastings Prince Edward 22 cases and Lanark Leeds Grenville 27 cases. Active cases in our SE region have risen back to levels seen in mid-January, a cause for caution.

Since Monday the KHSC lab ran 2549 tests and 34 were positive (although in tests of people form our region there was a low, 0.2% test positivity rate). As you can see in the graphic below, we have 4 cases in the area that are caused by variants of concern (possible SARS-CoV-2 mutants). In Ontario 1/3 positive tests now is due to a viral mutant strain.

three bar and line graphs on top of one another

COVID-19 in KFL&A March 4th 2021

5) Ontario infection rates remain <1000/day and test positivity rate remains low at 2.1% but one third of positive tests are due to N501Y mutation variants.  (click here(click here)

coloured map of Ontario with Cities listed

The COVID-19 epidemic is markedly improved in Ontario (see below) with 994 new cases yesterday. We have done 11.2million COVID-19 test thus far and the current rate of test positivity is 2.1%. This decline in positive test rates is not because we are testing more (or less-see below).

cream coloured bar graph with green line through it

Green line shows % positive tests in Ontario in the past month

Epidemiology guides vaccine policy: As mentioned before the disease is similarly affecting men and women and most infections are in people under age 40 (see below). 

purple and blue bar and line graph

Younger people in Ontario get (and transmit) COVID-19

In contrast there is essentially no mortality in people under age 30 and almost all mortality is in people over 50 (and especially over 70 years of age). These are the basic facts guiding our vaccine strategy in Ontario, which begins with people over age 80 years as of March 15th.

purple and blue line graph

Older people in Ontario die from COVD-91 much more than young people (the basis for our vaccine rollout policy in Ontario)

The rates of new and active cases is unchanged over the past week but deaths are down 26% (likely due to the effective LTC resident vaccination program) (see below). Ontario’s test positivity rate has reduced slightly to 2.1%. Positive tests are due to N501Y mutation variants in 30-35% of cases.

salmon coloured bar graph with red line through it

COVID-19 second wave is at a new plateau March 4th, 2021 (click here)

6) Canada’s COVID-19 epidemic continues to improve: There have been 875,559 total cases with 2,811 new cases yesterday. There were no decreases in the new case rate but active cases were down (-2%), as were hospitalizations (-3%) and deaths (-20%) (click here) (click here).

green and blue drawing of Canada and northern usa

There have been 22,134 COVID-19 deaths thus far and a cumulative national case mortality rate of ~2.03%. Canada has performed 25.3 million COVID-19 tests with a cumulative test positivity rate of 3.46%. 

numbers summarizing Canadas covid data to date over top of a map of Canada

COVID-19 in Canada March 4th 2021

We continue to see a large reduction in deaths (20% in the past week-see below). 

graph and numbers of Canada's covid data

Improvement in wave 2 continues: March 4th 2021 (click here).

PEI has had 17 new cases in the past week (click here) and as a result is in a 3 day lockdown. Rates there have yet to decline. Theoutbreak of COVID-19 in Newfoundland is resolving with intensified public health measures (see below). Rates of infection remain at a low plateau in all other provinces and territories, as a result of introduction of more aggressive public health measures. 

Canada’s vaccination roll-out is accelerating (click here): Canada’s roll out of vaccine is accelerating. To date, 12,832,350 doses of COVID-19 vaccines (including both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech) have been delivered. Thus far, 75.6% of delivered doses have been administered. 1,586,009 Canadians (4% of the population) have received at least one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine (see below). 556,553 Canadians are fully vaccinated (click here).

map of Canada with each province labelled and number of vaccines given per province

Number of vaccinations in arms as of March 4th, 2021

7) The global pandemic (click here): 

satellite picture oe earth from space

There have been 115,378,866 cases and 2,563,396 deaths since the pandemic began. Active case rates have been declining since the beginning of 2021 (click here) (see orange graph of daily case rates, bottom right). Daily deaths are also declining.

world map with salmon coloured dots and ranking of countries with highest covid

Global COVID-19, March 4th, 2021: The number of active cases (salmon dots on map) is declining globally (orange graph on right) 

The USA, with 28,773,799 cases and 518,758 deaths has roughly the same total number of cases as the next four most affected countries combined (India, Brazil, Russia. United Kingdom). The USA has accounted for ~25.2% of the global pandemic but things are improving rapidly in the USA, due likely to natural immunity, vaccine acquired immunity and better adherence to public health measures. America has seen a continued reduction in positive test rates for over a month (with rates now at 4.2%, the lowest since June 2020, click here; see below). 

bar and line graph showing decline in usa cases

Continued improvement in positive test rates in the USA (currently 4.2% positive), March 4th 2021

8) Improvement in COVID-19 in Ontario’s Long Term Care facilities (LTC)-evidence vaccines working: click here

three senior citizens sitting around a table wearing masks

Most COVID-19 deaths occur in people who are not only old but who are also frail and live in nursing homes and LTC facilities. While LTC residents account for only 5.3% of all cases in Ontario, click here, they account for 53% of all 6944 deaths in Ontario. As of today, the 3,745 deaths in nursing homes (up 1 death since Monday) account for ~57% of all deaths. There are ~ 62 active COVID-19 cases in LTC residents and 163 active cases in LTC staff. These numbers are rapidly and massively declining over the past month, which is very encouraging! For example a month ago we were seeing death rates of >100/week; now it is 10/week; still too many but heading in the right direction rapidly. These statistics (see below) show the beneficial impact of the province’s decision to prioritize its limited initial vaccine supply of health care workers and residents of Ontario’s LTCs. 

Regular reminders

KHSC bed capacityBed capacity is adequate with 68 beds available (up 8 from last Monday) and good ventilator capacity (55 units). Critical care beds are never plentiful but there is still better reserve than we have seen in the past month (see below). Medicine remains busy with our doctors caring for people in 173 beds, not including ICU beds on Davies 4 staffed by the Medicine program. 

We are committed to providing care to the 99.9% of patients in SE Ontario who do not have COVID-19 (if you’re interested in learning more read this). In addition to acute care for heart attacks, strokes and trauma etc., we are continuing to provide elective care. We recognize that the term “elective care” is really a misnomer. Many “elective” patients have chronic pain and disability or suffer from cancer and other serious diseases and will not tolerate delay in care. We continue to encourage physicians to optimize the use of e-health visits. We are also reminding patients who are coming to clinics in person that unless it is essential (and approved) they need to come alone, to minimize crowding in our clinic waiting areas. That said, it remains VERY safe to attend appointments at our clinics or to come to hospital for needed care!

Use the Mobile Screening Tool to expedite clinic visits: Complete the COVID-19 pre-screening tool here and you will be able to “skip the line”: All patients should complete our pre-screening questionnaire before their clinic visit. This will screen out people who are sick and expedite entry to the facility. The mobile screening tool only takes a few minutes to complete and you will receive an email with confirmation to bring with you, along with your appointment slip, in printed form or on your mobile device. To complete the mobile-screening in English, click here and in French, click here.

screenshot of pre screening app showing an index finger scrolling down an iPhone

KHSC visitor policy: Details on our visitor policy can be found using this link (click here). This is one of the hardest aspects of COVID-19 care in the hospital. Nurses in particular bear the burden of fielding numerous requests for visitation and while many requests tug on the heart strings we need to keep our hospital safe so it can function for the good of all residents. There are exceptions made to allow visitors under exceptional circumstances, particularly for palliative or dying patients. These exceptions are usually for a single visit. Our policy is necessary to prevent importation of infection to the hospital which would impair our ability to care for all patients. A very few cases of COVID-19 can paralyze the hospital, particularly if they are brought in by visitors and then spread undetected. 

COVID-19 testing at Beechgrove Community Assessment Center: (click here): All COVID-19 test must be scheduled appointments (versus walk in). Appointments can be scheduled using our on line scheduling system. Before booking a test, individuals should complete the online tool to determine whether they qualify for testing (click here). Operating hours: Testing hours will return to 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. To be tested you will require: A valid Ontario health card or a piece of photo identification. You must also wear a mask and maintain physical distancing at all times while in the walk-in line (click here).

animated photo of female getting nasal swab covid testthree young boys dressed as doctors wearing white coats and stethoscope

Because health care workers (doctors and staff) are increasingly having to miss work because their children have been sent home from school or daycare with symptoms of a upper respiratory tract infection, we have arranged that their children can access expedited testing at Beechgrove . The goal of this service is simply to allow the healthcare worker to return to work as quickly as possible for the public good. The children of staff will be tested between 1230 -1300 by appointment, 7 days/week. The new program for families applies to children up to age 18, an includes children of staff and physicians who provide clinical care and service. Staff and physicians themselves should contact occupational health to book their testing appointment. To book an appointment for a child, KHSC staff should call 613-548-2376. Testing of clinical staff and faculty and their children is processed at the KHSC lab with an average turnaround time of less than 24 hours.

COVID-19 in toddlers and young children: (click here). It has remained true throughout the pandemic that children in general are less severely affect by the virus and young children are somewhat less infectious (perhaps because they are less sick). Rates of infection are very low in preschool children. 

The situation in Ontario schools remains stable. The good news is the reopening in the 7 areas where it was permitted has not resulted in major increases in new cases. Below is the new baseline report for school age children in publicly funded Ontario schools. School boards report every weekday from Monday to Friday. In person classroom education is back in Toronto, Peel and York. With more kids back in school we are seeing more infections (although not at alarming rates). There have been 6455 students with COVID-19 since the pandemic began with 991 new cases in the past 2 weeks. This is double the number of last week’s new case rate, consistent with more young people being back in school. Data are shown below:

table showing current covid data for LTCfour teenagers sitting on a bench with iPhones iPads and a book

Here is the parallel data from licensed child care facilities in Ontario-where there have been 1431 children infected since the pandemic began, 178 new cases in the past 2 weeks.

a group of young children sitting on a classroom floor

Final thoughts: Taking the vaccine is safe and it’s the right thing to do. I have been vaccinated and it was an experience like all other vaccines I have had (uneventful). I recommend that when you are called you confidently roll up your sleeve and help us end the pandemic!

Stay well! 

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