As we move into another fall season where we are seeing hospital emergency department surges due to an increase in respiratory viral illnesses in Ontario, it’s even more critical to ensure everyone gets their flu shot and stays up to date on their COVID19 booster shots. Flu shots for the general public should be available as of November 1st through primary care offices and pharmacies – if you are having issues with accessing your vaccines, please connect with your PHU to facilitate distribution. As we prepare for what may be a difficult fall, we wanted to share with you some resources and tools you may find helpful.
From the Ministry of Health
The Ministry has developed a toolkit of communication resources with key messages and materials to help ensure Ontarians have a clear understanding of the COVID-19 booster dose recommendations and the importance of why and when they should receive a booster dose. Booster doses are recommended to everyone aged five and over to help restore protection that may have decreased since their last dose:
- Individuals aged five and over who are not considered high risk for severe COVID-19 illness are recommended to receive a booster dose six months since their last dose.
- It’s strongly recommended that the following individuals get a booster dose after three months:
- Those at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness
- Immunocompromised individuals aged five and over, after consultation with their health care provider
The toolkit includes:
- Key Messages
- Fact Sheet re: COVID-19 Booster Doses EN FR
- Social media calendar and shareables
- Qs&As from the Oct. 13 booster dose/bivalent announcement
- Fact Sheet re: COVID-19 Vaccines for Children and Youth COVID-19 EN FR
The Ministry has shared the most recent slide deck from October 14, 2022, which contains the provincial dashboard on COVID vaccination by age groups and priority populations. Note that Page 4 contains a Flow Diagram for COVID-19 Booster Vaccination - When Should you get a Booster Dose that may be helpful when counseling patients.
The Ministry also shared the Indigenous Vaccination Dashboard which lays out the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine to Indigenous adults, including Operation Remote Immunity. This includes First Nations, Métis, Inuit, and urban populations 5+. The IPHCC has done tremendous work in addressing vaccine hesitancy and increasing vaccination in the Indigenous communities using culturally safe learnings and approaches. Members are encouraged to read through the work done to date and to utilize the rich resources that are available for use.
Other updated Ministry of Health resources you may find helpful:
- COVID-19 vaccine guidance (MOH, October 13) (EN, FR)
- Monovalent Pfizer-BioNTech Primary Series for 6 months –4 years
- Updated recommendations for those who are pregnant and/or breastfeeding (alignment with NACI)
- Bivalent Pfizer-BioNTech booster for 12 years and older (available this week in Ontario)
- “There is no preference between bivalent Pfizer-BioNTech and bivalent Moderna for booster doses in individuals 18 years of age and older”
- Storage and handling of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccines (MOH, updated October 13) (EN)
- COVID-19 vaccine consent and notice form (MOH, updated October 6) (EN, FR)
- COVID-19 guidance: Long-term care homes, retirement homes, and other congregate living settings for public health units (MOH, updated October 6) (EN, FR)
- COVID-19 provincial testing guidance (MOH, updated October 6) (EN, FR)
Other Helpful Tools and Resources from the OCFP
The Ontario College of Family Physicians (OCFP) has developed several tools that you may find helpful when managing patients with respiratory symptoms in your clinics:
- Fall update to patients – script (incl. flu vaccination, COVID vaccines, and when to seek care)
- IPAC Summary for Community Practices – updated October 2022
- Managing patients with respiratory symptoms in office – overview October 2022
- Frequently asked IPAC/PPE questions – updated October 2022
- My child has COVID. What should I know? – updated October 2022 (Confused About COVID series)
From Ontario Health
As noted in our October 6th communique to EDs and admin leads, Ontario Health had sent out a memo on October 3 on Evusheld, a therapy against COVID-19. The memo was for healthcare providers and outlines what Evusheld is, who can receive Evusheld, and how to access it for eligible patients. It also includes a link to a revised toolkit for providers who may be prescribing or administering Evusheld.
If you have not seen it, the memo with all the resource links can be found here – EN FR. The memo also references the following resources:
- Information about Evusheld (tixagevimab and cilgavimab): Reference for health care providers who may be prescribing or administering Evusheld EN
- Patient handout on Evusheld EN FR
Events and Webinars
Breakfast Webinar: Highlights and Implications of the Ontario Science Table's Brief on Primary Care
On October 3, 2022, the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table (OST) released its final brief, a 3-part exploration of how primary care responded to and was affected by the pandemic, and implications for ongoing health system planning and policy:
- Part 1: The Roles of Primary Care Clinicians and Practices in the First Two Years of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Ontario – https://rebrand.ly/OST-brief-1
- Part 2: Factors Affecting Primary Care Capacity in Ontario for Pandemic Response and Recovery – https://rebrand.ly/OST-brief-2
- Part 3: Lessons Learned for Strengthened Primary Care in the Next Phase of the COVID-19 Pandemic – https://rebrand.ly/OST-brief-3
Join on November 30th at 7:45 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. to hear from key primary care leaders as they share some of the more significant findings and implications. Panelists include:
- Dr. Imaan Bayoumi: Assistant Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences at Queens University, Family Physician, Member of the Ontario Science Table
- Dr. Danielle Martin: Chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto, Family Physician at Women's College Hospital, Member of the Ontario Science Table
- Dr. Noah Ivers: Family Physician at Women's College Hospital, Scientist at the Women's College Research Institute, Associate Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto, Member of the Ontario Science Table
- Dr. Jennifer Rayner: Director of Research and Evaluation at the Alliance for Healthier Communities, Adjunct Research Professor at Western University, Contributor to the Ontario Science Table Briefs on Primary Care
IPAC for Non-clinical Staff (PH Ontario)
This course is designed specifically for people who don’t have formal health care training and work in a congregate living environment. It will provide learners with the IPAC knowledge they need to keep themselves, their patients, and their co-workers safe from infections in workplaces like shelters, group homes, residential treatment centres and other facilities. Participants will learn how to conduct a risk assessment, perform proper hand hygiene, when and how to use personal protective equipment safely, the basics of administrative and environmental infection control measures, and best practices for outbreak management. Click here to learn more.
Thank you again for all you are doing to keep your patients and the community safe. If you need any assistance or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. Stay safe and Happy Halloween.
Yours in good health,
The AFHTO Team