COVID-19 Daily News Digest – December 30th, 2020
Coronavirus: Interior Health prepares for Moderna vaccine rollout
Interior Health said it’s focused on rolling out the doses to high priority groups over the next month.
“Starting with residents, staff and essential visitors to long-term care and assisted-living facilities. Then, individuals in hospitals or communities that are awaiting a long term care placement. Next, will be health care workers providing care for COVID-19 patients in settings like intensive care units, emergency departments, medical/surgical units and paramedics. And, remote and isolated First Nations communities,” wrote Interior Health staff in an email.
COVID-19: Moderna vaccine to arrive in Fort Saskatchewan this week
Moderna’s vaccine was just recently approved by Health Canada and does not need to be stored in ultra-cold temperatures like the Pfizer vaccine. Therefore, it is easier to transport and immediately get into long-term care facilities.
Kenney added the vaccinations are on track to hit the next phases as planned; with seniors aged 75 and over, as well as First Nations on reserve, Inuit and on-settlement Metis individuals aged 65 and over likely being targeted in February.
Phase two is still expected to start by April 2021 and will be targeted to the next groups of prioritized populations, which are still to be announced.
Phase three will involve rolling out vaccinations to the general Alberta population and is anticipated to start later in 2021.
16.9K Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses heading to Alberta care facilities
remier Jason Kenney said 16,900 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines will arrive in Alberta on Tuesday, which will be rolled out to long-term care centers across the province immediately. Kenney said as more shipments of the vaccines arrive, immunizations will expand to people in other living facilities, seniors aged 75 and over, and First Nations people on reserve who are 65 or older.
Coronavirus: Remote B.C. First Nations expect to receive vaccine, Dr. Bonnie update at 3 p.m.
Several remote B.C. First Nations are expecting their first doses of the Moderna vaccine on Tuesday. Keith Baldrey has more on the distribution plan and what we can expect at the latest COVID-19 briefing.
Group of paramedics head to northern Manitoba to help provide holiday care
On Tuesday, Lanette Siragusa, Shared Health’s chief nursing officer, said late last week the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch requested help with nursing stations and staffing over the holidays.
“With the help of our provincial recruitment redeployment team, we were able to identify six advanced care paramedics who were available to be assigned and deployed,” she said.
Siragusa added that pairs of the advanced care paramedics will be providing care in the communities of Shamattawa, Oxford House and Wasagamack between Dec. 27 and 30.
“We would like to sincerely thank these paramedics for their time and skills to help fellow Manitobans, especially during the holiday season,” she said.
Northern vaccination clinics not likely until spring – Hillier
While some First Nations communities in Northern Ontario can expect to receive COVID-19 vaccines in the first three months of the new year, it will likely be April, May or June before most citizens of northeastern Ontario can expect to see vaccination clinics in their communities.
“I would speak to the First Nations here and just say be assured that those people in the long-term care homes or retirement homes that are First Nations are going to be looked after as part of this priority also,” said Hillier.
He added that this includes the workers in those First Nations nursing homes
Hillier said this means that teams will be going into remote Indigenous communities along the James Bay coast to carry out vaccination programs.
“We are preparing now to do that and that’s what we want to do very early in January,” said Hillier.
“We want to do that in Phase 1 in the North, if you will. I think it is 31 communities that you can fly into only. And then look at how we roll across the northern part of Ontario with a continuation of that program and ensure that we get to as many people as possible in those communities that have survived largely because they have isolated themselves from the outside world.”
Hillier said the dosages will be increased weekly throughout January, February and March, to provide protection to LTC residents, health-care workers and staff. He said the dosages in March could reach as much as 1.1 million.
2,206 new cases of COVID-19 and 74 deaths confirmed in B.C. over past 5 days
The Moderna vaccine began arriving in B.C. on Tuesday, Henry said, with more arriving in coming days. She said as soon as it arrives it will go out to remote and isolated First Nations communities.
She said the groundwork has been laid with partners such as First Nations and the First Nations Health Authority to make sure logistics, training and supplies are in place.he Moderna vaccine has less demanding handling requirements, which makes it more suitable for remote communities.
So far, Henry reported, two people have had allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccination. She said this was not unexpected.
Both people who had reactions were treated, she said, and have fully recovered. Both were health care workers.
Moderna Covid-19 vaccine to arrive at Anahim Lake Tuesday, Dec. 29
A delivery of vaccine was anticipated in Anahim Lake, 300 kilometres west of Williams Lake, on Tuesday, Dec. 29.
Ulkatcho First Nation members and surrounding non-Indigenous residents of Anahim Lake and Nimpo Lake will be among the first in B.C. to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine this week.
Prior to the start of inoculation, available for residents 18 years and older, First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) representatives will be holding a meeting outside the Ulkatcho First Nation Community Hall Tuesday morning to help individuals make an informed decision on the benefits and risks associated with the vaccine.
The first of two doses will be offered to Indigenous elders first, followed by the remainder of Ulkatcho residents. A second dose is required 28 days later.
Anahim Lake is one of 10 rural and remote Indigenous communities with limited access to health care services across the province receiving the Moderna vaccine this week. While there is a nursing station at Anahim Lake, the nearest hospital for residents needing further medical attention is in Williams Lake.
FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron looks back, ahead as 2020 comes to an end **Interview**
Q: Leaders have been navigating the coronavirus pandemic on and off reserves. What’s been learned along the way?
A: It has made us all become more aware and cautious of our surroundings. It has made us more vigilant in terms of keeping our hands clean and even the air we breathe.
Q: There have been more than 2,000 cases on reserves across the province, but how is off-reserve membership being impacted?
A: With our urban, our off-reserve band members, they’re kind of at a loss because they don’t know where to turn for help or who’s going to look after their needs. Everyone is chipping in and doing their part to assist urban members. What we did at the FSIN was provide eight semi-truck loads (of food) right off the bat back in March and we delivered it to the major centres. It couldn’t feed everybody, but at least it helped.
Q: It’s been a tough year in a lot of ways, but can you talk about some of the wins in 2020?
A: Well, despite the challenges we’ve been facing with COVID-19, we’ve also seen some positive news where many of our First Nation communities are taking our children and youth back to the land. We have a term in Cree and it’s called “askiy poko ē-wīcīhitowak” and what that means is our land alone will help us. It’s a very critical teaching for many First Nations people across this country and across this world, for that matter.
Q: What message do you have for Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples alike about the importance of continuing with the relationship building that’s happened this year?
A: Our children are watching and they’re listening and they’re learning. If they see us working together and communicating and trying to improve everybody’s lives, then it gives them the incentive that no matter what skin colour we are or how we were raised or where we were raised, we all have the obligation to show the word respect.
How Canadians will know when it’s their turn to get vaccinated
For the first phase of the vaccine rollout plan, NACI advised that initial doses should go to these four groups:
- Residents and staff of long-term care homes.
- Adults 70 and older, beginning with people 80 and older, then decreasing by five-year increments to 70 as supply becomes available.
- Health-care workers, including all those who work in clinical settings, and personal support workers who come in direct contact with patients.
- Adults in Indigenous communities, where infection can have disproportionate consequences.
For Phase 2 of the vaccination rollout, NACI recommended that recipients include:
- Health-care workers who are not part of the initial rollout.
- Residents and staff of all other congregate settings (e.g., living quarters for migrant workers, correctional facilities, homeless shelters).
- Essential workers, including police, firefighters and those in food production.
Provincial and territorial governments may make modifications to that list. For example, Alberta’s plan separates the first phase into Phase 1A and Phase 1B — with First Nations, Métis and people 65 and over living in a First Nations community or Métis settlement not getting the vaccine until the second half of the first stage.
How do I find out when it’s my turn to get vaccinated?
During the first phase, health officials are urging the general public not to show up at vaccine clinics set up across the country. Many regional health officials are contacting those who are eligible, or those who are eligible are being notified through their employer. In Manitoba, appointments are being made by phone, with a new online system to be launched in early 2021.
Indigenous Movements and the Struggle in Defense of Land in 2020
This year was especially difficult for indigenous movements and land defenders around the world. Not only did they have to contend with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it was also a particularly violent year with more violence and repression. Globally, transnational corporations, large landowners and governments took advantage of the lockdown and the subsequent decline in mobilization to advance their plans of land-grabbing, evictions and exploitation of natural resources. However, despite the challenges, movements continued their struggles with conviction and also secured some very inspiring victories.
In North America, protests against oil pipelines continue to be waged by indigenous activists and environmentalists. In Canada, the year began with a nationwide mobilization for the Wet’suwet’en people’s battle against the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline. Their struggle continues despite a disappointing verdict passed by the court, along with orchestrated repression on their land. Just to the south, in the United States, a significant victory was secured by indigenous groups after a federal court cancelled the permit for the Dakota Access pipeline. This year also witnessed the emergence of the Land Back Movement in both the US and Canada, bringing to light the sordid history behind the founding of Mount Rushmore and other stolen lands from Native Americans. The repression of the protests at Rushmore held on US Independence Day only led to a spark in nationwide demands from indigenous peoples for their “land back”.
Doctor creates award for Indigenous medical students in son’s memory
A Toronto doctor has created an award to support Indigenous medical students and encourage more Indigenous people to enter health care. The award is in memory of her adopted Indigenous son, who died by suicide after battling mental health issues.
Another new year starts with hope
By: Niigaan Sinclair
The year began with hope that many long-standing challenges for Indigenous communities could be overcome.
For example, on Jan. 1, Bill C-92 came into effect, enabling Indigenous communities to take control of child and family services, making them “free to develop policies and laws based on their particular histories, cultures, and circumstances.”
This followed the 2019 passing of Bill C-91 and the creation of a federal Indigenous languages office — committing the government to support and fund “Indigenous-led language reclamation, revitalization, maintenance and strengthening activities.”
January also marked the opening of the Indian day school settlement process, offering more than 200,000 survivors compensation for harms perpetuated at 699 schools, and a $200-million education, healing and commemoration fund.
None of these changes were perfect (the bills are full of jurisdictional problems, while 700 schools were excluded from the settlement) but, still, there was hope.
Phase one of COVID-19 vaccine rollout to include First Nations communities
In the first week of January another 50,000 Pfizer doses are expected and an additional 80,000 doses each week, giving the province 300,000 doses in January to administer to the people in Ontario.
Of the 50,000 Moderna vaccines expected in January, the majority will be used for a vaccination project for First Nations communities in Northern Ontario.
“We started in parallel a project with a small task force to go into northern Ontario and look after initially those isolated communities, primarily along James Bay to start with who are at risk themselves and to vaccinate the people there,” Hillier said.
“We have been in contact with the chiefs in the regions, the health people on the ground. We are preparing to do that very early in January.”
Hillier added that they want to do 31 fly-in communities and then look at how to rollout the vaccine across the northern part of Ontario.
“We know their medical support is not huge on the ground, so if they get COVID-19 in the communities it would be a tragedy and we want to prevent that,” he said.
Vaccinating Indigenous people will free up hospital beds, First Nations leaders say
Northern First Nations are pushing the province to make Indigenous Manitobans more of a priority for COVID-19 vaccines.
“We’re out here making sure that our Indigenous people in the north are considered, and that they are prioritized, because of the vulnerability and the risk that they have,” said Garrison Settee, grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak.
“I’m very optimistic, but we want to be included and we should be included in all these discussions.”
As of Tuesday, First Nations patients make up one third of the COVID-19 caseload in Manitoba hospitals, according to the Manitoba First Nations Health and Social Secretariat.
Manitoba First Nations researchers have dug into the data to make the case for why Indigenous people, both on reserve and in urban areas, should be near the front of the line to receive vaccines, given their disproportionate representation in hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions.
“If you look at the logic, we can actually empty out half of the beds at the Health Sciences Centre if we vaccinate Indigenous peoples first,” said MKO medical advisor Dr. Barry Lavallee.
The province currently has no plans to do this, according to Dr. Jazz Atwal, acting deputy chief public health officer.
Adults at risk on northern First Nations are a vaccine priority group, but health-care workers and personal care home residents are slated to get the vaccine first.
Winnipeg paramedics answer the call to help strained northern First Nations communities
Six Winnipeg paramedics flew into three remote northern communities Dec. 27 to help health services being strained by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We took a little plane up to Saint Theresa’s Point, and then two of us, myself and Kevin Martin, got on a helicopter into Wasagamack. The other four advanced paramedics went to Oxford House and on to Shamattawa,” advanced care paramedic Ryan Woiden said.
“We have to go back to work right away as well on the 31, so we’re staying until the 30,” Woiden said. “We’ll answer the call again if they ask because the people up here, the community, you know, they’re accepting, they’re trusting and the staff here, you know, you just can’t say enough about them.”