Kingston’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Kieran Moore, said he is waiting to find out if Kingston Frontenac Lennox & Addington (KFL & A) will receive essential additional doses of influenza vaccine this fall.
“We have not heard if the government has purchased an additional influenza vaccine for the upcoming respiratory season,” said Dr. Moore at the KFL & A board meeting on Wednesday, June 24, 2020. “We so we have to prepare for the worst. ”
Inspired by the southern hemisphere, where it is currently in winter, the council heard a presentation on Wednesday on successful initiatives in Australia and New Zealand to manage the co-circulation of influenza A, B and COVID-19 . Officials are promoting the flu vaccine.
” Every year, [Australia and New Zealand] go through the flu season from June to August, “said Anthony Li, a medical student at Queen’s University who works with public health at KFL & A.” So this can be a very good indicator for us in North America to take a look at what they do, best practices and what to expect. ”
“Australia vaccinated at record levels this year, 237% more [flu vaccination] than last year, “said Li.” New Zealand, 102% more than last year. And they both have a record incidence of flu-like symptoms. ”
“I absolutely believe that COVID-19 and all other respiratory illnesses will naturally increase in October and continue until March 2021,” said Dr. Moore.
Because influenza A, B and COVID-19 all have similar systems, Li and Moore explained that it could overload emergency services in Kingston. They both suggested that Ontario should maintain and expand the mandate of its 130 COVID-19 test centers in order to manage a seasonal flare, transferring them to acute respiratory disease centers that also test for influenza.
The two KFL & A assessment centers are currently located at the Memorial Center in Kingston and the Lenadco Building in Napanee.
The expansion and transition of these assessment centers should reduce the burden on our emergency departments, said Li and Dr. Moore, and reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in healthcare.
“We already did this in 2009 for the H1N1 pandemic in KFL & A,” said Li. “We have redirected more than 2,000 patients out of the emergency department.”
“The flu usually causes a 10 to 15% admission trend, a 20 to 30% increase in emergency room visits alone,” said Dr. Moore. “If we don’t have these assessment centers in place, the impact on the acute care sector, the primary care sector, and hospital and hallway admissions could be significant,” he said. declared.
Dr. Moore said he works at the highest levels of government to advise the continued preparation and support and funding of the centers. “I think it is an important tool in our toolkit to protect the health care system and minimize the spread within the community,” he said.
KFL & A calls for more flu shots sooner
Under the leadership of the board of directors, Dr. Moore said that a KFL & A public health team had also approached the Chief Health Officer of Health and Public Health Ontario to request additional doses of the flu vaccine and receive them earlier in the season.
“We have been referred to the National Advisory Committee on Immunization,” he told council. “They are looking into the matter. I know they bought 300,000 more doses of the vaccine over the next year. ”
Ontario generally sees a provincial flu vaccination rate of around 30 to 40 percent, he said. These additional 300,000 doses, spread across the province, will not have much impact on the usual immunization rate.
“We will continue to advocate for [influenza] vaccine, “he said.
“A prevention strategy, learning from New Zealand and Australia is key. They show very good resistance to the flu thanks to their vaccination strategy, hand hygiene, cough etiquette, early testing and masking in public. We will have to maintain all of these things. ”
Dr. Moore added that it is difficult to make these “community standards” and to ensure that people adhere to these practices, but the board will have to continue to push these concepts in preparation for the coming year.
“We don’t see a COVID-19 vaccine coming for at least a year,” he said.