Canadian doctors concerned about PPE and access to influenza vaccine before wave 2: investigation

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TORONTO – As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across Canada, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is sounding the alarm on the challenges doctors continue to face ahead of a second wave, including the obtaining personal protective equipment and access to influenza vaccine. While there have been improvements in the supply and distribution of PPE, a survey of CMA members found that 54% of physicians continue to experience supply issues.

“We continue to see epidemics across the country and with the resurgence of COVID-19 now before us, it is imperative that governments ensure our frontline workers are protected, not only in hospitals but also in community practice settings because they are our first line of defense against this pandemic, ”CMA President Dr. Ann Collins said in a press release.

Besides the lack of equipment, doctors expressed other concerns in the investigation over the availability of PPE and delivery delays.

The survey shows that 68% of community physicians – those who work in offices or walk-in clinics – worry that suppliers do not have sufficient stocks of PPE while 62% expect orders are delayed.

The survey was conducted August 19-24 by the CMA, and 1,459 physician members responded.

More than half of those polled also said they feared global demand for PPE is hampering Canada’s ability to secure sufficient supplies to fight a second wave of infections.

“More than six months after the start of this pandemic, and we still hear from our members and in fact, over 50 percent of them have difficulty accessing PPE for their community practices, in the face of the growing number of COVID cases. Collins said in an interview with CTV News Channel Tuesday.

Despite the problems with PPE, Collins said three-quarters of doctors surveyed believe the healthcare system is better prepared to deal with COVID-19 resurgences compared to the first wave.

However, she says doctors are still concerned about epidemics affecting certain populations, including in nursing homes and schools.

“Over 80 percent of them still expressed very sincere and serious concerns about some marginalized and vulnerable populations,” Collins said. “And also, concern about the impact of reopening schools and how it will affect the PPE supply chain. ”

Collins explained that better communication between provincial governments and the health agencies who purchase PPE and the doctors who use it would help address shortages.

“What we are asking for is a coordinated response between the jurisdictions involved and responsible for access and distribution of PPE and also, what is very important for our members, is that there must be a awareness and clear communication with them. and with them on how to meet this challenge, ”Collins said.

In addition to concerns about personal protective equipment, the CMA has found that Canadian doctors are also concerned about having access to the flu shot.

More than 86% of doctors who responded to the survey said they fear the flu season will put additional strain on the healthcare system.

Collins said there is “no doubt” the flu season will put additional stress on doctors.

“This will place an additional demand on community physicians to have an adequate supply of protective equipment in their practices so that they can deliver these vaccines to their patients. It might not just be in their practice, but also in other settings, so protection is the key, ”she said.

Of physicians who administer the influenza vaccine in their practice, 85% said Canada’s health system needs to strengthen its capacity to meet the increased demand for influenza vaccines this year, with 50% saying they will not. will not be able to obtain enough vaccine doses to meet patient demand.

Health experts are increasingly concerned that Canada will experience a so-called “twindemic” of dueling flu and coronavirus outbreaks when cold weather sets in across much of the country.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has previously said it expects higher demand for influenza vaccines amid the combined threat, and recommends that provinces and territories consider other means of ” offer immunization programs this season.

“The flu shot is more important than ever this year. We must avoid a possible double epidemic of influenza and COVID-19 as it can be devastating for patients and our ability to support health care delivery, ”Collins said in the statement.

“We need to focus on increased funding and resourcing of public health to support mass immunization efforts. ”

Collins told CTV News Channel that she expects the flu shot to be available by the end of next month. She added that it is “essential” that all Canadians get the flu shot this year.

“What we’ve heard is that by the end of October it should be available and hopefully by then it will be in the hands of these public health units, pharmacies, [and] family physicians who will be giving it to Canadians this fall, ”she said.

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