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graph showing decrease in cases in LTC due to vaccinations

March 8, 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

By mid-week universal patient masking precautions will be in place

1) Vaccination in Ontario: Accelerated Phase 2 timelines for vaccine (all over age 60 to be offered vaccine by mid-June) (click here)

2) Vaccination of frontline health care workers at KHSC: 3045 KHSC health care workers have received their first doses of vaccine Team Vaccine Rocks! 

3) All about COVID-19 Vaccines: 

  • Updated FAQs about vaccination including: New FAQ: Which vaccine will/should I get? 

4) KFL&A COVID-19 rates remain low with 21 active cases in our region (8.4/100,000 in past week) and 1 case in prison (see update from KFL& A Public Health)

5) Ontario infection rates rise slightly but with minimal change in weekly rates of new or active cases. Test positivity rate remains low at 2.3% but one third of positive tests are due to N501Y mutation variants.

6) Canada’s COVID-19 epidemic continues to improve: There have been 886,579 total cases with 2,488 new cases yesterday. Over the past week the new case rate is down (-10%), active cases were down (-5%), as were hospitalizations (-5%) and deaths (-23%) (click here) (click here). 

7) The global pandemic plateaus (click here) but rates of positive tests rise in the USA, as many American states unmask (click here):

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

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1) Vaccination in Ontario: Accelerated Phase 2 timelines for vaccine (all over age 60 to be offered vaccine by mid-June) (click here)

screenshot of news article female giving vaccine in arm of a man

Ontario is accelerating it’s vaccine roll-out by ~ 1 month. Ontario’s vaccine task force has indicated they will open 133 mass vaccination clinics by the end of March. These new clinics will account for 80% of all vaccines in Phase 2; however, vaccines will also be given by some pharmacies. These mass vaccination clinics will serve 26 of Ontario’s 34 health units. One example of the accelerated plan is that people over age 60 years are now anticipated to receive an offer of a vaccine by mid-June. This reflects in part the arrival of Astra Zeneca vaccines in Canada and the approval of a 4th vaccine in Canada, Johnson & Johnson’s single shot vaccine. Both these new vaccines are easier to store, and distribute. In addition, by the start of April Ontario plans to offer vaccines to people with certain underlying health conditions (see Table later in this section), caregivers in congregate settings and adults in some COVID-19 hotspots (click here). The plan to use pharmacies as sites of vaccination (mostly using Astra Zeneca vaccine I suspect) will begin in mid-March in Toronto, Windsor and KFL&A (stay tuned for details). 

The table below shows the sequencing of Ontario’s Phase two COVID-19 vaccination plan.

chart graph of phase II vaccine sequencing

Regarding people with “eligible health conditions for Phase 2 vaccination”-it is to say the least “comprehensive”. It includes almost 3 million people!

list of health conditions of those who will be vaccinated in phase 2

The Figure below offers the latest update on our improving supply of vaccines:

list of vaccine availability by manufacturer

As I mentioned on Thursday, Ontario’s booking system for vaccines goes live March 15th, 2021

(click here). Please find an update on the vaccine booking system and call centre from the government of Ontario below. Note that KFL&A is part of the booking pilot program, a well-deserved honor!

memo vaccine booking system pilot info

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: 3045 KHSC health care workers have received their first doses of vaccine Team Vaccine Rocks! 

As of today, KHSC has been allotted approximately 5000 vaccine doses by KFL&A Public Health. The dashboard below shows the amazing job Team Vaccine has done. They have issued 6008 invitations to health-care workers (HCWs), people who are in Phases 1-4 of the MOHLTC’s priority grid. Currently they have booked 4529 people to be vaccinated by weeks end. 3045 KHSC health care workers (staff, trainees, faculty) have already received their first doses of vaccine. These numbers change daily, even hourly. The vaccine uptake rate (offered/accepted) is 75%. Despite the amazing roll-out, I am quite concerned that one in four health care workers has yet to accept their invitation. KHSC is investigating the reasons for this.

chart  of health care worker 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).

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

3) Here are answers to some updated FAQs with answers to common questions about the COVID-19 vaccines (most recent at the top).

gray faceless body with question marks hovering around head

FAQ 1) Which vaccine will/should I get? The short answer is that all vaccines effectively prevent COVID-19 death and severe adverse outcomes-so take the one that you are offered. They are all safe. That said, the vaccine someone receives will depend on your age, where you live and where you are vaccinated. The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, which has an overall effectiveness of 62%-vs >90% for Moderna and Pfizer, will be administered mostly through pharmacies and primary care clinics, as will the Johnson & Johnson vaccine (I suspect). This is the case because they both can be stored safely in a regular freezer (click here). The AstraZeneca vaccine is recommended for people between 18-64 years of age. The mRNA viruses (Pfizer/Moderna) are recommended for people over age 64 years. The advantages of getting a vaccine earlier (even if it’s a little less effective) outweigh waiting longer for a more effective vaccine. This is especially true since all vaccines seem to prevent death and severe COVID-19 complications.

FAQ 2) 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 3) 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 4) 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 providing information for those on blood thinners

FAQ 5) 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.

chart listing side effects of Pfizer vaccine 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 6) 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 7) 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.

syringe and needle drawing vaccine from a bottle

FAQ 8) 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 protein gene 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 9) 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) (updated Feb 26th).

six text boxes with info regarding adverse effects when receiving the vaccine

FAQ 10) 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 low with 21 active cases in our region (8.4/100,000 in past week) 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 739, not counting the prison outbreak. This is up 6 cases since Thursday and one new case is again a variant of concern (i.e. possible mutant virus). There are 21 active cases in the region. There are a total of 5 variant virus cases in KFL&A. The case rates are rising in SE Ontario, particularly in Leeds-Grenville county. The regions tests positivity rate is 0.9%.

One inmate at Millhaven Institution’s maximum-security unit tested positive last week 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 are no COVID-19 patients hospitalized at KGH. However, there are now a total of 89 active cases in South Eastern Ontario, up 23 from 2 weeks ago Active cases in our SE region are rising back to levels seen in mid-January, a cause for caution.

Since Monday the KHSC lab ran 2847 tests and 25 were positive (although in tests of people form our region there was a low, 0.2% test positivity rate). In Ontario 1/3 positive tests now is due to a viral mutant strain.

two bar graphs on top of each other with red line graph through them

COVID-19 in KFL&A March 8th 2021

5) Ontario infection rates rise slightly but with minimal change in weekly rates of new or active cases. Test positivity rate remains low at 2.3% but one third of positive tests are due to N501Y mutation variants.(click here(click here)

coloured map of Ontario

Ontario’s COVID-19 prevalence map showing recent cases/100,000 people (red is bad)

The COVID-19 epidemic is stable in Ontario (see below) although new cases rose to 1250 yesterday from 994 cases last Thursday. We have done 11.26 million COVID-19 test thus far and the current rate of test positivity is 2.3% (up from 2.1% last Thursday). Positive tests are due to N501Y mutation variants in 30-35% of cases. This is not the case in KFL&A (thus far), where mutants remain rare.

salmon coloured bar graph Ontario reporting covid cases

COVID-19 second March 8th, 2021 (click here)

6) Canada’s COVID-19 epidemic continues to improve: There have been 886,579 total cases with 2,488 new cases yesterday. Over the past week the new case rate is down (-10%), active cases were down (-5%), as were hospitalizations (-5%) and deaths (-23%) (click here) (click here). 

green and blue map of Canada and northern USA and surrounding bodies of water

There have been 22,239 COVID-19 deaths thus far (26 yesterday) and a cumulative national case mortality rate of ~2.02%. Canada has performed 25,757,734 COVID-19 tests with a cumulative test positivity rate of 3.44%. 

graphs, numbers and a map of Canada highlighting current covid data

COVID-19 hotspots (bigger circles-middle panel) in Canada March 8th 2021

salmon coloured bar graph showing current covid data since Dec 2020

Improvement in wave 2 continues: March 8th 2021 (click here).

PEI remains a hotspot (relatively speaking) (click here) and its new case rate has not yet begun to decline (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. 

colourful line graph showing increase in covid cases in PEI

Spike in cases in PEI has not yet resolved yet after 3 days of lockdown

Canada’s vaccination roll-out is accelerating (click here): To date, 2,938,570 doses of COVID-19 vaccines(including both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech) have been delivered. Thus far, 82.6% of delivered doses have been administered. 1,858,048 Canadians have received at least one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine (see below). 567,906 Canadians are fully vaccinated (click here).

map of Canada with each province and vaccines administered labelled

Vaccinations are in arms of 4.889% of population as of March 8th, 2021

7) The global pandemic plateaus (click here) but rates of positive tests rise in the USA, as many American states unmask (click here):

satellite view of earth from space

There have been 116,942,682 cases and 2,595,106 deaths since the pandemic began. Active case rates were declining but have now hit a plateau, which is concerning (click here) (see orange graph of daily case rates, bottom right). Daily death are continuing to decline.

world map with ranking of countries with the highest covid cases, deaths and USA test results

Global COVID-19, March 4th, 2021: The number of active cases (yellow dots on map) has plateaued in the past weekly (orange graph, bottom right) 

The USA, with 29,000,012 cases and 525,046 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 were improving rapidly in the USA, due likely to natural immunity, vaccine acquired immunity and better adherence to public health measures. 

America now has a 6% positive test rate; up from at 4.2%, on Thursday click here; see below). Unfortunately led by populist governor’s in states like Texas, rates are on the rise again! Texas now has a positive test rate of 14.7% and a new “no mask” state policy! This is immediate proof behaviours has consequences. This is a reminder that the virus has exploited just about every human fragility and failing to sustain itself.

screenshot of news article showing Texas governorbar and line graphs showing increase in positive test results in USA

A resurgence of positive test rates in the USA (currently >6% positive), March 8th, 2021

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

three senior citizens sitting at a table all 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 3,748 deaths in nursing homes (up 3 death since Thursday) account for ~57% of all deaths. There are ~ 55 active COVID-19 cases in LTC residents and 139 active cases in LTC staff, the lowest numbers in months. These numbers continue to decline, which is very encouraging! For example a month ago we were seeing death rates of >100/week; now it is <5/week; still too many but heading in the right direction rapidly. These graph below shows 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. Note the rapid decline in both staff (yellow) and resident (orange) COVID-19 case numbers coincident with vaccination!

line graph with yellow and orange lines and dotted black line

Vaccines crush COVID-19 in LTCs

We are not done vaccinating everyone in our retirement homes and LTCs, so more benefits will shortly be forthcoming (see summary of progress below).

number graphic showing details of phase one of vaccines

Regular reminders

KHSC bed capacityBed capacity is adequate with 62 beds available (down 6 from last Thursday) and good ventilator capacity (62 units). Critical care beds are never plentiful but there is still better reserve than we have seen in the past month, with 10 beds on Kidd 2. Medicine remains busy with our doctors caring for people in 176 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 to augment (not replace) in person care. 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.

screen shot of mobile screening app for KHSC index finger scrolling on 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): 

Update March 8th: The center has been very busy, especially testing children < 12 years old (in light of school outbreaks). They have been doing over 600 tests/week in these children, KUDOS Team Testers! They also continue to test asymptomatic individuals who are going to and from LTCs and for essential visitors to hospitals. 

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 covid swabthree young boys with their arms crossed dressed like doctors with white coats and stethoscopes

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 6539 students with COVID-19 since the pandemic began with 1022 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. 

four teenagers 2 male 2 female sitting on a bench holding iPhones, iPad and a book

Here are the parallel data from licensed child care facilities in Ontario-where there have been 1477 children infected since the pandemic began, 174 new cases in the past 2 weeks (which has been stable since the end of lockdown).

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! I would also advise taking whatever vaccine you are offered as the benefits in preventing severe adverse outcomes (death and mechanical ventilation) are provided by all approved vaccines. In addition, by “going earlier” (rather than waiting for your vaccine of choice) you are accelerating the creation of herd immunity and protecting the public at large.

Be sure and check your KHSC email for your invitation!

Stay well! 

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