COVID-19 vaccine: Who has been overlooked in the vaccination rollout across Canada?
After Canada approves two COVID-19 vaccines, one from Pfizer-BioNTech and one from Moderna, sales plans come into effect across the country as Canadians wait to see when they will be vaccinated.
Nationwide, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has made recommendations for groups of people in Canada who should be vaccinated with starting doses of COVID-19 vaccines. The four groups are:
Residents and employees of shared apartments who look after the elderly
Adults over 70 years, starting with adults over 80 years, and lowering the age limit by five years to 70 years as soon as the offer is available
Health care workers (including anyone working in the health care sector and personal support workers whose work involves direct contact with patients)
Adults in indigenous communities, where infection can have disproportionate consequences
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NACI believes that the second tier of vaccinations in Canada should include:
Healthcare workers who were not included in the initial rollout
Residents and employees of all other meeting rooms (e.g. quarters for migrant workers, prisons, shelters for the homeless)
Basic labor (e.g. police, fire brigade, food production)
You could still get COVID-19 even if you were vaccinated
The COVID-19 vaccine reduces serious illness and symptomatic illness, says infectious disease specialist Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, but that doesn't necessarily mean you can't catch it or transmit it to your surroundings without knowing it. Because of this, masks and shields will continue to be part of our existence in the near future as the introduction of the vaccine spreads to the majority of people in the country.
Each provincial and territorial government is ultimately responsible for deciding how their assigned vaccine doses will be distributed, including considerations of areas of highest risk at the local level, but all operate within these general NACI guidelines.
As vaccines are dispensed and administered across Canada, some people are asking for more clarity about where certain groups of people fall into vaccine prioritization and how long those people will have to wait to be vaccinated.
Canadians with dementia and their caregivers
Dr. Saskia Sivananthan, Chief Research & KTE Officer at the Alzheimer Society of Canada, told Yahoo Canada that priority should be given to not only people with dementia getting a COVID-19 vaccine but also their carers.
“Just as we prioritize healthcare and frontline workers in hospitals and long-term care and do so because we know they are working one-on-one with residents or patients, nurses are one-on-one. “Dr. Sivananthan said. "[They] are basically the only support system for people with dementia in the community right now, so it's important to prioritize them."
Older seniors are on the NACI's list of priorities and in the province's vaccine rollout plans. However, no specific considerations have been made for people with dementia, which Dr. Sivananthan represent a "big problem".
"The dementia itself puts you at higher biological risk," she said. "Most people with dementia not only have dementia, they also have a variety of other underlying chronic diseases, and dementia makes these other diseases difficult to treat."
She explained that around two-thirds of residents in long-term care facilities have dementia. These residents are said to be a priority for vaccines across Canada, especially now that the Moderna vaccine has been approved, which can be brought into long-term care facilities.
“If you take residents with moderate to late-stage dementia and remove them from their home, long-term care is their home. They're trying to take them to another place to get the vaccine and they have to wear masks, they can't touch anything ... this is going to be incredibly difficult, "said Dr. Sivananthan.
As long-term care facilities began to introduce restrictions on entry to these homes at various points in the pandemic, this lack of interaction affected the cognitive decline of these dementia sufferers. Your caregivers also play an important role in these situations, including assisting with feeding and changing.
“This rethinking has to take place here. Not only do they go in and visit long-term care relatives, they go in and they play a role in that care, they are part of that team with the caregivers, ”she said.
Not all dementia sufferers are in long-term care
Although many long-term care residents have dementia, many Canadians still live with dementia in the community.
"The first misunderstanding of ideas is that if dementia progresses, people are living with dementia that everyone ends up in long-term care, and that is not the case," explained Dr. Sivananthan. "The vast majority of people with dementia actually stay in the community because they have families and caregivers, but also additional support."
“Because they have dementia, it is more difficult for them to follow the ... rules and regulations. It would be more difficult to get someone with dementia to wear a mask all the time, wear gloves, and wash their hands frequently. "
There is support for people in the community living with dementia, including counseling services and day programs, but Dr. Sivananthan stressed that during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these services were shut down and these caregivers remained "completely isolated".
"We're getting emergency calls from carers who are at the end of their rope," she revealed. "They have no breaks, they have no respite because it's 24 hours, seven days a week."
COVID-19 Vaccine: This is the one that shouldn't be ingesting it fully
The specialist in infectious diseases, Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti says the COVID-19 vaccine formula is safe for most people, but those who have anaphylactic reactions should speak to their doctor about the safety of the dosage or avoid it altogether. The doctor also recommends caution in pregnant, breastfeeding, or immunocompromised patients. Parents should also speak to their primary care physicians about the effectiveness of the vaccine in children under the age of 12, as studies do not provide conclusive results on dosage requirements for young children.
Teachers across Canada
The Canadian Teachers Association has urged governments to ensure that teachers have a priority for COVID-19 vaccination, and specifically, asking to be vaccinated for vulnerable populations, health workers and first responders.
"We believe it is important that teachers are prioritized after these groups of people as teachers are in close contact with students and other adults throughout the day," Shelley L. Morse, president of the Canadian Teachers Association, told Yahoo Canada . "We are in schools with hundreds of people, and even if our schools have tried to maintain physical distance, the fact is that in a classroom with all desks there is not enough space for adequate distancing."
Both international and national resources for guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19 include physical distancing, wearing a mask when a safe distance cannot be maintained, limiting close contacts, and avoiding spaces with inadequate ventilation.
"When the World Health Organization gives this description of how they can reduce their risk of transmission, they are describing what teachers do in their classrooms and schools every day," Morse said. "Most schools are poorly ventilated, we can't keep our distance properly [and] masks aren't required in all classrooms across Canada."
Coronavirus: Ontario Premier Ford Says School Closures Will Be Extended During Winter Break
Ontario Prime Minister Doug Ford announced a statewide shutdown on Monday to contain rising COVID-19 cases in the province, including extending the winter break for schools. Ford said schools are not part of the problem, but out of caution, students from kindergarten through eighth grade will return to class on Jan. 11, while students will resume classes with distance learning on Jan. 11 and return to classes on Jan. January.
Many jurisdictions, including Ontario, have committed to maintaining learning in the classroom as much as possible. At the same time, there was little concrete evidence as to when teachers can expect immunization in the vaccination process.
"If we want to keep schools open then why don't we make sure the risk is minimal," said Morse. “We have a different standard in public than in our school buildings. When you think about how many students and how many people there are in a school building all day without adequate ventilation, there is a great risk. "
Morse added that Canada's largest student population is in elementary schools and the currently approved COVID-19 vaccines have not yet been approved for use in children. The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine is approved for use in people aged 16 and over, and the Moderna vaccine is only approved for use in adults aged 18 and over.
"When we have all of the people we work with who can't have the vaccine, we teachers and educators are at greater risk," Morse said. "One less person who is at risk improves schools and classrooms and keeps our schools open."
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