America Will Not Require Boosters To Be “Fully Vaccinated” – Full COVID Update

America Will Not Require Boosters To Be “Fully Vaccinated” – Full COVID Update

US health officials are not changing the definition of being “fully vaccinated” against COVID-19 but are advising people to get booster shots when eligible. The decision means that federal vaccination mandates in the US for travel or employment won’t require a booster dose. The move to keep the existing definition to two doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine comes as health officials warn of waning protections from the initial doses.

Outrage Over Lack of Business Supports:

A small business group says it’s appalling that the Ontario government did not announce immediate relief for businesses hit by another round of pandemic-related closures yesterday. Restaurants, gyms, cinemas and other indoor venues were forced to shut down, while retail stores and personal care services are limited to half capacity. The province has promised financial support but details remain under wraps. Dan Kelly of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business says it’s a familiar routine but the lack of timely support this time is, “rage-inducing” for struggling business owners.

Niagara Hospitals Redeploying Staff:

A Niagara Region hospital network says it is closing one of its urgent care centres due to staffing challenges and an increasing number of COVID-19 patients. Niagara Health says the centre at its Fort Erie site will shut down at 11pm tonight. It says staff will be redeployed to other emergency departments. 

GO Transit Canceling Routes Because of Staff Shortages:

GO Transit says it will offer reduced train and bus service starting in the coming days, as it deals with staffing shortages due to the Omicron variant. The transit agency serving the Greater Toronto and Hamilton region says the service reduction will be temporary, and cancellations will be spread across its train corridors and bus routes. Go says staff absences vary by department, but frontline teams are seeing an average drop in staffing levels of 20 to 30 per cent each day due to illness or isolation.

Babies Infected:

Six babies younger than 12 months have been admitted to hospitals in Hamilton and Ottawa because of COVID-19 since the middle of December. The situation pushed a group of Ontario hospitals to urge pregnant people to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, McMaster Children’s Hospital, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and Kingston Health Sciences Centre said in a statement all infants admitted to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa had unvaccinated mothers. The group of hospitals say infants’ immune systems have difficulty fighting disease especially without maternal antibodies transferred during pregnancy from vaccination.

New Calls For Danger Pay to Return:

Big grocery stores are being urged to reinstate hazard pay for workers facing extra health and safety risks from the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19. The federal NDP’s critic for economic development has written to the heads of Canada’s biggest supermarkets asking them to restore pandemic pay, which was brought in after COVID-19 first struck and later cancelled. Brian Masse wants to hold Sobeys CEO Michael Medline to his promise before a Commons committee in July 2020 that he would reintroduce a wage premium if provinces reinstate restrictions.

O’Toole Accuses Trudeau Of Incentivizing Lockdowns:

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole is accusing the Trudeau government of incentivizing lockdowns by offering financial support packages to businesses to cope with COVID-19. O’Toole says almost two years into the pandemic, the prime minister has failed to show national leadership on how to keep the economy open while managing COVID-19 caseloads by using tools like rapid tests. O’Toole says he recently received his booster shot and encourages others to get vaccinated. The Conservative leader says, however, he believes those who won’t get immunized against COVID-19 should be accommodated and says Trudeau has used the issue of vaccinations to divide Canadians.

Trudeau Announces New Rapid Tests:

The federal government is gearing up to crank out many more rapid tests for COVID-19 to the provinces. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says rapid testing is part of the path through this latest wave of the pandemic. He has announced that the federal government is delivering 140-million of the tests to be distributed this month on a per-capita basis Trudeau says the distribution of the rapid tests is primarily done through the provinces, while the federal government’s role is to procure them.

Doctors Without Borders Criticizing Canada:

An advocate for vaccine equity says Canada needs to push vaccine makers to donate with the same vigour it pushed them to speed up deliveries to vaccinate Canadians. Adam Houston, with the group Doctors Without Borders, says Canada pushed makers constantly last year to speed up deliveries but only for here. Canada has to date donated just one-quarter of the 50 million doses it promised to send poorer countries from its own vaccine contracts.

Hong Kong Bans Flights From Canada:

Hong Kong is imposing a two-week ban on flights from Canada and seven other countries as part of attempts to stem an emerging outbreak of the COVID-19 Omicron variant. The two-week ban on passenger flights from Canada, Australia, Britain, France, India, Pakistan, the Philippines and the United States will take effect Sunday. Authorities are also holding 2,500 passengers on a cruise ship for coronavirus testing. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam also announced restaurant dining will be forbidden after 6pm for two weeks starting Friday.

Are Flight Attendants Properly Protected?

A union representing flight attendants is calling for stronger action from government and airlines to ensure health and safety aboard flights during the Omicron wave of the pandemic. The demand comes after videos posted to social media showed passengers without masks singing and dancing in the aisle and on seats during a Sunwing airlines charter flight from Montreal to Cancun. The head of the Canadian Union of Public Employees airline division says governments should speed up access to booster shots for flight crews. Wesley Lesosky says airlines should also scale back service in the aisles to limit flight attendants’ exposure to the virus.

More Flurona Circulating:

The first cases of simultaneous flu and COVID-19 infections have been detected in the U.S. in two children from Texas and California.   The “Flurona” cases were found this week in a child in Texas and one in Southern California.  The first case was diagnosed at Texas Children’s Hospital Monday after a test confirmed the child was infected with both influenza A and SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID.  The child is okay and recovering at home.  The second case was discovered in Brentwood, California on New Year’s Day at a mobile testing center. The patient, from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, was visiting the US on a family vacation.  The child was experiencing symptoms but in fairly good condition and hasn’t been hospitalized.

America Approves Boosters For Teens:

Yesterday, a panel of outside experts advising the CDC voted to recommend booster shots of Pfizer and BioNTech SE’s COVID-19 vaccine be made available to 12- to 15-year-olds.  The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted 13 to 1 to recommend that the health agency support booster shots for those aged 12 to 15 at least five months after their second dose.  The panel also said the CDC should strengthen its recommendation for boosters ages 16 and 17.

Novak Djokovic Denied Entry Into Australia:

Australian Open champ Novak Djokovic has been denied entry to Australia, and had his visa cancelled by border authorities Earlier Djokovic was granted a medical exemption to play in the Australian Open. The exemption allowed the top-ranked tennis star entry to the tournament regardless of his vaccination status for COVID-19. Djokovic has declined to clarify his vaccine status.

Ontario Numbers:

More than 2,000 people are in Ontario hospitals with COVID-19. The province reported 2,081 in hospital, and 288 in intensive care yesterday. Health Minister Christine Elliott says 202 of the people in ICUs are not vaccinated or their vaccination status isn’t known. Ontario also logged 14 new deaths due.

Waterloo Region / Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Numbers:

Waterloo Region Public Health confirmed 655 new cases yesterday and 2 more deaths. That’s 4 in two days. There are now 4,025 active cases with 61 people in hospital, but only 6 in the ICU.

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health only announced 45 new cases yesterday. There are now 2,041 active cases with 16 people hospitalized. Only 3 are in the ICU.

Contains files from The Canadian Press

Photo Credit: The White House

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