You may have seen or read in the news that family doctors/primary care teams will be contacting our patients aged 80 or older about vaccination. We are waiting on details from the Ministry of Health about the booking system and vaccine sites and will share more information with you as soon as it is available. We want to have as many people vaccinated as soon as we can. We expect details of the vaccination process will be communicated publicly by the Ministry once confirmed.
For further information and links to resources:
– Vaccine Bulletin: What you need to know – Resource validated by Canadian doctors and available in 15 languages
– Short patient education videos developed by healthcare workers
– Ontario Ministry of Health vaccine information
Please note: we do not have any information regarding the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine at this time.
February is Black History Month
This month provides us an opportunity to highlight the stories and contributions of black Canadians in the growth and development of Canada.
Please click here to learn more about Canada’s Black History Month.
Did you know that Halton has a Black History Awareness Society (HBHAS)?
Their mission is learning, uncovering and promoting Canadian Black History towards a progressive, inclusive future through art, music, theatre, literature, spoken word; educational, historical and genealogical forums and community collaboration.
To learn more about the society, please visit https://www.hbhas.ca
Did you know…
That a Northern Ontario community was named after the first documented abolitionist in the world?
That the Ontario human rights commission was developed by Dan Hill Sr., the father of Lawrence and the popular Canadian singer Dan Hill?
Dan Hill Sr. ran to Canada with his to be wife, Donna, from Kentucky, at a time where interracial marriage was prohibited.
That an Ontario community tried to hide its former Black integration by burying Black tombstones under potato fields, using them for basement flooring and bases on baseball fields and, changing census documentation to read “Scottish” or “Irish” vs. Black or Negro?
This was uncovered, tombstones resurrected and “true” history recorded and appreciated as a National Heritage site in 1989.
That the song, “Some Kind of Wonderful” copied by Marvin Gaye, Michael Bublé, Carole King, Joss Stone and multitudes of other performers, was written by John Ellison who lives in Hamilton, Ontario?
Hubert Davis, a Canadian film director and Academy Award Winner presented at the Men As Career Coaches Conference in Oakville – put on by the Halton Industry Education Council – Inspiring Informed Career Decisions conference in 2015. He won this award as a videographer of a documentary called “Hardwood” about his father, Mel Davis, formerly with the Harlem Globetrotters.
That Joseph Brant welcomed slaves to Canada and treated them as family and part of their community in acclimatizing to Canada?
These are just a few examples of the awesome catalogue of historical documentation of our Canadian Black history and a promotion towards the values of cultural history integration into Canada’s educational system.
Les McKinnon, an award winning white historian on Black History writes:
“A number of minority groups have been marginalized to the point where they don’t even show up in history. We have hundreds of years of very positive influence by early black pioneers that have shaped the very nature of the community we live in. It’s worthy of us to acknowledge that, to be aware of it, to learn from it and to use it as a measurement of growth… We need to see ourselves in the landscape of history. We have a proud heritage that’s a shared history …we have a duty to respect that contribution.”
COVID-19 QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Here at Prime Care FHT, we want to ensure you are informed and updated on COVID-19 and the vaccination process. Below are a list of frequently asked questions along with the most up-to-date answers! If you have any additional questions, please feel free to reach out to us on social media or on our website.
What is the COVID-19 vaccine?
Vaccines are products that produce immunity to a specific disease like COVID-19. When you are immune to COVID-19 that means you may be exposed to it without becoming sick or if you do become infected, it can prevent more severe illness.
Why is it important to get a COVID-19 vaccination?
Vaccines save lives. Vaccines don’t just protect the people getting vaccinated; they can protect everyone around them too. The more people in a community who are vaccinated and therefore protected from COVID-19, the harder it is for it to spread.
- Widespread immunization is the best option to protect people from COVID-19.
- As more people get vaccinated, we will be able to return to activities that haven’t been possible during the pandemic.
- The First Nations Health Authority’s (FNHA) Medical Officers strongly recommend that Indigenous people opt to get the vaccine when they are offered one.
How does the vaccine work?
The first COVID-19 vaccines are called messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. RNA stands for ribonucleic acid, which is a molecule that provides cells with instructions for making proteins. These vaccines essentially teach our cells how to make copies of the coronavirus’ spike protein that are harmless to us (do not cause disease), which triggers an immune response if we become infected with the virus.
- The Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines require two doses to be fully effective. The second dose is administered between 21 and 42 days after the first.
- The vaccines are about 70 per cent effective 14 days after the first dose and 95 per cent effective after the second dose.
- As with any vaccine, the COVID-19 vaccines may not fully protect all those who receive them.
- Questions remain about how long immunity lasts and whether a vaccinated person can still transmit the disease. Research into these and other questions continues.
How many COVID-19 Vaccines are there?
- Currently, there are two COVID-19 Vaccines authorized for use in Canada:
• As of December 9, 2020 the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been approved for use in Canada.
- As of December 23, 2020 the Moderna vaccine has been approved for use in Canada.
- Supply of these vaccines will increase in the coming weeks, allowing for more people to receive them.
Additional COVID-19 vaccines are under review by Health Canada. Once the clinical trials for these potential vaccines have been completed and have passed the review process, there may be additional vaccine products authorized for use in Canada. Worldwide, there are more than 150 vaccines in development. Canada has agreements with several companies to receive enough doses in 2021 for the entire population
I’ve heard that people may not be getting the second dose of the vaccine as scheduled. Will it still work?
- The World Health Organization (WHO) Advisory Group on Immunizations allows for the second dose to be given up to six weeks (42 days) after the first dose in countries or areas where there is a high rate of transmission and limited vaccine supply. This is to allow as many people as possible to benefit from a first dose.
- The strength of the immune response and long-term effectiveness of the vaccine is not expected to be decreased by this delay. If an individual’s second dose is delayed more than 42 days after their first dose, it is recommended they receive their second dose as soon as possible and no doses will need to be repeated.
Is the COVID-19 vaccination safe?
- Vaccines are safe. To ensure vaccines are safe, there are many processes and standards in place. The COVID-19 vaccine has been rigorously tested.
- In Canada, new vaccines must go through three phases of clinical trials (studies) before being approved for use in the general public. There are hundreds or even thousands of participants who volunteer to take part in the third phase of the clinical trials. These trials provide crucial information on vaccine safety as well as effectiveness. After clinical trials, Health Canada must review the evidence and approve any vaccine before it is used in Canada.
Before a vaccine is offered in Canada, Health Canada will ensure:
- It is safe
- It works
- There are consistent, high-quality manufacturing processes
- The benefits of getting the vaccine outweigh the risks of not getting it. There is strong evidence that the vaccine is safe and works for people 18 years and over year (including seniors) was and that it is highly effective across age, sex, race and ethnicity.
What are the side effects of COVID-19 vaccines?
- Only minor side effects were observed in clinical trials, similar ones you might get from any shots. These include pain at injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and fever. These reactions are mild and generally last one to two days. They are evidence that your immune system is working to respond to the vaccine.
- Should you develop any serious symptoms or symptoms that could be an allergic reaction, seek medical attention right away. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include hives (bumps on the skin that are often very itchy); swelling of the face, tongue, or throat; and difficulty breathing. Therefore you are asked to wait 15 minutes before you leave the clinic after getting the vaccination.
Is the vaccine safe for me to get if I have an underlying health condition?
- The vaccine is generally recommended for people with underlying health conditions, such as diabetes, asthma and/or heart disease. This is because most people with underlying health conditions are vulnerable to developing a severe illness if they do get COVID-19, and vaccines are the most effective way to prevent that from happening.
- However, COVID-19 vaccines have not yet been tested in people who take medications to suppress the immune system or have some immune-compromising conditions (e.g., autoimmune diseases or people undergoing chemotherapy). Therefore, a conversation with your care provider and or specialist is recommended to review the risks and benefits of the vaccine. As more data becomes available, Health Canada will assess new clinical data, such as evidence to support use in broader populations like children. Speak with your health care provider if you are unsure whether the vaccine is right for you.
Is it safe for me to get the vaccine if I have allergies?
- Health Canada recommends that people with allergies to any of the ingredients in the vaccines should not receive them. An ingredient in the vaccines that has been associated with a rare but serious allergy (anaphylaxis) is polyethylene glycol (PEG). PEG can be found in some cosmetics, skin care products, laxatives, some processed foods and drinks, and other products. Learn more about the ingredients and recommendations from Health Canada.
- If you have experienced a serious allergic reaction to another vaccine, drug or food, or skin care product you should talk to your health professional before you receive the vaccine.
- The Moderna vaccine ingredients are published here:https://www.canada.ca/en/healthcanada/services/drugs-health-products/covid19-industry/drugs-vaccines-treatments/vaccines/moderna.html#a11
- The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine ingredients are published here:https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/covid19-industry/drugs-vaccines-treatments/vaccines/pfizer-biontech.html#a1.1
- Vaccines continue to be monitored for safety after they are approved. They are monitored locally, provincially, nationally and globally. If you have an adverse reaction following immunization, it is important you let your immunization provider know.
Should I get vaccinated for COVID-19 if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?
- COVID-19 vaccines have not yet been tested widely in people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. However, most pregnant and breastfeeding women would benefit from receiving the vaccine, as the risk of not getting vaccinated may outweigh the potential risk of being vaccinated during pregnancy.
- If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, please connect with your health care provider about whether the vaccine is right for you at this time.
Should I get the vaccine if I have tested positive for COVID-19 or already had COVID-19?
- Yes, if you had, or may have had, COVID-19 you should still get the vaccine when it’s available to you. This is because you may not be immune to the virus that causes COVID-19 and you could get infected again and become sick. If you are unsure, check with your health care provider.
- If you recently tested positive and currently have COVID-19, you should wait three months until after the testing date to get your vaccine.
How long will the COVID-19 vaccine protect me? Will I have to get a COVID-19 vaccine every year?
- The short answer is we don’t know. This vaccine has not been around long enough to know how long the protection will last. Clinical studies continue to measure the effectiveness over time for this vaccine. Health Canada and other immunization experts will continue to monitor the effectiveness of the vaccines.
I still feel nervous about getting the vaccine…
- Vaccination is a personal choice that most Canadians agree is part of good health and important for prevention of serious disease.
- The COVID-19 vaccine is an option the FNHA’s Medical Officers recommend to protect you, your family and your community.
- Feeling worried or hesitant is normal when something is new and it is understandable that some people may lack trust in the medical system. However, vaccine trials go through rigorous, well-established ethical processes. We can feel assured that vaccines are safe, effective and that they will save lives.
How did we get a COVID-19 vaccine so fast?
- Scientists have been able to develop COVID-19 vaccines quickly thanks to high levels of government funding, sharing information and working together across countries, and building on technology they already use in existing, successful vaccines.
- In addition, groups like Health Canada shortened the bureaucratic processes, for example, by reviewing data while clinical processes were going on. However, the safety approval processes have not changed. The requirements for safety data in clinical trials are as stringent as ever.
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
Ways to outsmart the disease are within everyone’s reach!
Although the exact cause of colorectal cancer is unknown, both genetic and environmental factors have been implicated. Factors that cannot be avoided and are out of one’s control include: our age and genetics. Age is the most important risk factor, as the risk increases steadily with age especially after age 45 and is rare in individuals under 35 unless predisposed by genetic disease. Median age of developing colorectal cancer is 71 years.
In addition, there are hereditary conditions that increase chances of colorectal cancer and these include:
– Peutz-Jeghers syndrome
– Gardner’s syndrome and Turcot syndrome
– Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) have been implicated in greater risk of colon cancer due to the increase in cell turnover
– Patients with a family history or personal history of gynaecological (breast, ovarian, endometrial) cancers
– Individuals diagnosed with Barrett esophagus also have increased risk
– Also, those with family and/or personal history of adenomatous polyps greater than 1cm in size are at greater risk
Risk of developing colon cancer is directly proportional to the number of first-degree relatives affected.
Signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer include:
– A change in bowel habits
– Diarrhea, constipation, or feeling that the bowel is not emptying completely
– Bright red or very dark blood in the stool
– Bleeding from the rectum
– Stools that look narrower or thinner than normal
– Discomfort in the abdomen, including frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness, and cramps
– Weight loss with no known explanation
– Constant tiredness or fatigue
– Unexplained iron-deficiency anemia
These symptoms can be present with other conditions such as hemorrhoids and irritable bowel syndrome. If these symptoms last for several week or are increasing in severity contact your family doctor, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant.
Factors that are within our control that contribute to colorectal cancer include diet and lifestyle:
– Diets high in fat
– Red meat
– Refined carbohydrates
– Diets that are low in plant fibre have been correlated with a higher incidence of colorectal cancer.
– Whereas diets high in fibre and rich in vegetables and fruits, are correlated with lower rates of colorectal cancer.
– There is also evidence that suggests exercise reduces risk of cancer in general.
Although genetic predisposition cannot be avoided, it may encourage early and frequent screening thereby early diagnosis.
Colon Cancer Screening
In Ontario, colon cancer screening is recommended to start at the age of 50 for those with no family history of colon cancer. For those with a family history, colon cancer screening begins on the advice of their family member’s specialist, or their primary care provider.
When colorectal cancer is caught early, 9/10 people can be cured!
There are two methods of screening:
The Fit test
This test replaces the previous fecal occult blood test (FOBT), which required 3 samples. Thankfully, the newer FIT test only requires one sample and is has much more accuracy than the FOBT. This is a noninvasive test and a positive result indicates a need for further investigation.
FIT testing occurs every 2 years.
Screening colonoscopy and flexible sigmoidoscopy
This more invasive test requires preparation. The day before your test, you will be given medications to “empty” your colon. During the procedure, often performed under general anaesthetic, you will have a camera “scope” inserted into the rectum and it will proceed through the colon, searching for polyps, masses or other abnormalities. The surgeon can also perform a biopsy during this test, should any abnormalities be found. Typically, a person has this type of test if they have a higher than average risk for colon cancer. It is more accurate than the FIT test, but also carries more risk as it is more invasive.
Speak to your primary care practitioner about which test is right for you!
For more information on colon cancer screening you can speak to your primary care practitioner, or visit Cancer Care Ontario
Pathophysiology for the healthy Professional 2nd edition by Barbara E. Gould