I hope you had a wonderful weekend!
Many of you know from Instagram and Facebook that one of our children was recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. We received the most amazing outpouring of love and support. While the diagnosis is lifelong and serious, we are very proud of how Jason has rolled with the punches and learned to live with diabetes. Jason has been educating on my social media as he wants as many families to learn about diabetes as possible to increase awareness and early detection. It’s incredible how much young people can teach us about resilience and optimism!
Let us dive into the bad news and good news of the week. I will answer your most asked questions and end on my silver lining.
Dr. Dina, what is the bad news?
We are clearly in a sixth wave now. Several provinces dropped mask mandates, but Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, advises that we continue to wear masks. “Even if you don’t see a resurgence now, you’re probably going to in the next days or weeks, and that [taking precautions] will help reduce transmission.”
Cases are rising across Canada, with the Atlantic provinces and Northwest Territories having the highest rates. Last week, Prince Edward Island had the highest per capita rate of new COVID infections.
COVID-related hospitalizations are rising in Ontario, with nearly 1000 patients admitted. Test positivity is around 20% now. Admissions from COVID are up in Quebec, with over 1500 people admitted and a positivity rate of 20%.
The director of Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, Dr. Peter Jüni, says we are likely seeing over 100,000 NEW cases of COVID a day. These numbers are based on data we have from wastewater surveillance. This is around 5% of Ontarians! Hospitalizations have risen 40% week-over-week.
COVID-19 infection rates for children under five, who are not yet eligible for vaccination, have more than doubled, rising 108% in the last two weeks. Ontario data shows that rates of COVID infection have been increased in vaccination kids aged 5-11 by 60% and in unvaccinated kids by over 75%. Ontario has seen an increase in the number of children being admitted.
The situation in Shanghai, China, remains dire. Twenty-five million people are still confined to their homes to get an outbreak under control. Residents find it challenging to find food and necessary supplies for home through online suppliers. There are tens of thousands of new cases of COVID-19 per day. The vaccination rate in China is over 90% but is only 50% for the most vulnerable people, 80 years of age and older.
What is the good news?
Over 11 BILLION COVID vaccines have been given worldwide, representing 65% having received the first dose and 58% having received two or more doses.
89% of eligible Canadians have received their first dose, and 86% have received two or more vaccine doses.
The current vaccines may not be the best match against Omicron and the subvariants. The primary series and boosters along with properly fitted masks remain our best defence against severe illness and ongoing transmission (and continued disease mutation).
The most common questions of the week
Is COVID from Omicron less severe than from Delta?
Research shows that kids less than five years of age have less risk of severe disease from Omicron than Delta. Researchers looked at the health records of 650,000 kids in the US. They found that Omicron was 6-8 x more infectious than Delta, but fewer kids required admission for Omicron than Delta. They found that emergency department visits, mechanical ventilation and ICU admissions were significantly lower for children infected with Omicron versus the Delta variant.
Who can get the fourth dose of a COVID vaccine now?
Individuals with moderate-severe immunodeficiency, those age 60 and older and First Nation, Inuit and Métis individuals and their non-Indigenous household members aged 18 and over are now eligible for a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose.
A fourth dose (second booster dose) should be offered to those who received their third dose (first booster dose) five months (140 days) prior. The minimum interval for the fourth dose (second booster dose) is three months (84 days).
To maximize the immune response to the vaccine after having a COVID-19 infection, it is recommended that individuals wait three months (84 days) after testing positive for COVID-19 (or after symptoms start).
Where can I find out more about COVID vaccination if I am pregnant, breast/chestfeeding or planning to conceive?
The COVID-19 Vaccine Consult Service at the Hospital for Sick Children and the VaxFacts Clinic at the Scarborough Health Network are working together to provide consultation on the COVID-19 vaccine for Ontarians who are pregnant, breast/chestfeeding or planning to conceive.
Where can my child receive their grade 7 and 8 vaccines?
As I mentioned in the newsletter last week, children can receive their grade 7/8 vaccines in their physician’s office (these need to be pre-ordered from the government pharmacy), at City of Toronto Immunization clinics, and now Toronto Public Health is offering school-based vaccine clinics. These clinics will provide additional opportunities for students to initiate or catch up on their school immunization vaccines at local in-school clinics.
Hepatitis B, Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Meningococcal vaccines will be available to students in grades 7 to 12 who have missed starting or completing their school vaccine series due to COVID-19 disruptions. Clinics will be offered at various schools across Toronto. School boards plan to reach out directly to families to provide information about these upcoming clinics.
My silver lining of the week
It has been a challenging couple of weeks for our family. COVID rages on and stresses us all. Our son’s diabetes diagnosis was a major event for our family, necessitating a tremendous change in our daily life, which will continue every day for the rest of his life.
Despite this significant shock, I believe a positive mindset and optimism can profoundly impact our ability to cope. I focus on the silver linings.
I received thousands of kind messages from the community last week. The outpouring of love and support has been incredible.
Jason’s ability to pivot and focus on learning to thrive with diabetes has been the most inspirational experience of my life. I feel blessed and humbled by him and you for your support.
I hope you have a wonderful week.
Stay healthy and safe.
Dina is a wife, mother of 4, and adrenaline junky. She loves to share children’s health information from her professional and personal experience. More About Dr Dina.