COVID-19 live updates: Moderna says vaccine protective, safe in young children; O'Toole says vaccine mandate 'infringes' on their rights

Watch this page throughout the day for updates on COVID-19 in Edmonton

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COVID-19 news happens rapidly, we have created this file to keep you up-to-date on all the latest stories and information on the outbreak in and around Edmonton.

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Share your COVID-19 stories

As Alberta grapples with a fourth wave of COVID-19 at the start of another school year, we’re looking to hear your stories on this evolving situation.

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  • Have you or a loved one had a surgery rescheduled or cancelled in recent weeks?
  • Are you someone who has decided to get vaccinated after previously being skeptical of the vaccines?
  • Have you changed your mind about sending your children back to school in person?
  • Have you enrolled your children in a private school due to COVID-19?
  • Are you a frontline health-care worker seeing new strains on the health system?
    Send us your stories via email at edm-feedback@postmedia.com

8:45 a.m.

Moderna says its COVID-19 vaccine protective, safe in young children

Reuters

A person unpacks a special refrigerated box of the Moderna vaccine.
A person unpacks a special refrigerated box of the Moderna vaccine. Getty Images, file

Moderna Inc said on Monday its COVID-19 vaccine generated a strong immune response and was generally well-tolerated in children aged six to 11 years, citing interim data from a study.

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The company said it planned to submit the data to U.S., European and other regulators soon.

Moderna said the data showed two 50 microgram doses of the vaccine, half the strength of the doses used in the vaccine given to adults, generated virus-neutralizing antibodies in children.

The majority of side effects were mild or moderate in severity, the company said. The most common solicited adverse events were fatigue, headache, fever and injection site pain.


8:23 a.m.

After saying Tories ‘will respect’ decision on vaccine mandate for MPs, O’Toole now says it ‘infringes’ on their rights

Christopher Nardi, National Post

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and conservatives across Canada should now embrace the carbon tax while developing more realistic policies than the Liberals, says columnist David Staples.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and conservatives across Canada should now embrace the carbon tax while developing more realistic policies than the Liberals, says columnist David Staples. The Canadian Press, file

After first saying that he “will respect” the House of Commons’ internal management committee ruling that MPs need to be fully vaccinated to enter Parliament on Wednesday, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole now insists that the decision “infringes” on members’ rights.

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“While we respect that the (Board of Internal Economy, or BOIE) has the jurisdiction to manage the parliamentary precinct, we do not accept that the BOIE has the jurisdiction to infringe on a Member’s right to take their seat in the House of Commons,” O’Toole spokesperson Mathew Clancy said in a statement Friday.

The statement is the latest in a brewing battle on mandatory vaccination for MPs between the Conservatives and the powerful BOIE committee, which manages Parliament and the physical House of Commons and includes members of all parties.

The saga began on Tuesday evening when House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota announced that the BOIE — which he chairs — had decided that all MPs needed to be vaccinated in order to sit in the parliamentary precinct, minus those with a valid medical exception.

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Soon after, Conservative Whip Blake Richards said that the party disagreed with the notion that the BOIE had the power to make such a decision.

“While we encourage everyone who can be vaccinated to get vaccinated, we cannot agree to seven MPs, meeting in secret, deciding which of the 338 MPs, just elected by Canadians, can enter the House of Commons,” Richards said in a statement.

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Sunday

Edmontonians honoured for keeping seniors connected during COVID-19 pandemic

Hamdi Issawi

Haidong Liang, executive director of Edmonton’s Westend Seniors Activity Centre.
Haidong Liang, executive director of Edmonton’s Westend Seniors Activity Centre. Photo by Ed Kaiser /Postmedia

The province is recognizing an Edmonton gerontologist for “outstanding service” to older Albertans after he kept them connected throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Thursday, the Alberta government awarded a Minister’s Senior Service Award to Haidong Liang, executive director of the Westend Seniors Activity Centre and architect of an online activity catalogue that kept members active and engaged despite public health restrictions.

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In March 2020, when the threat of transmission forced the centre — a brick-and-mortar social hub for older Edmontonians — to close its doors, Liang saw an opportunity to open a virtual avenue to programming. Within a month, WE Seniors , the centre’s digital platform, was offering virtual classes to members through video conferencing applications such as Zoom.

But before that, he had to break down a potential barrier to access.

“Without even getting funding from the government, my team immediately started offering one-on-one technology support to seniors,” he said.

That involved creating fact sheets and instructional brochures hand-delivered to members through a partner organization called Drive Happiness , which offers assisted transportation services.

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Within the first 10 months of the pandemic, the centre provided technology training to more than 800 members, Liang added, and throughout the pandemic offered more than 100 online courses.

“Seniors are actually more adaptive than people think,” he said.

Before the pandemic, Kaye Langager, 78, was at the centre about three to four days a week to take part in exercise, yoga and writing classes. She said she had “never heard of Zoom” until Liang created the online offerings, but the centre made the transition seamless for her and others in the same situation.

“I don’t think there’s ever been a greater amount of seniors who have learned Zoom as quickly as they did from Westend Seniors (Activity Centre),” said Kaye, who’s also vice-president of the board of directors. “A lot of people in our age group aren’t overly familiar with computers either, so it’s not like second nature to us.”

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Saturday

Canadian ski resorts face labour shortage, government slow to issue working visas

The Canadian Press

Big White ski resort
Big White ski resort PROVINCE

Canadian ski resorts that rely heavily on international workers are steadying themselves for a labour shortage this winter as the visa approval process by the federal government slows.

With international borders reopening to vaccinated travellers and vaccine passports allowing for increased guest capacity, Paul Pinchbeck, the CEO of Ski Canada, said the expected busy ski season is “creating a conundrum” for resorts across the country.

“We have significant demand for our products, which is exemplified by early-season travel bookings and season’s pass sales, but we are short many thousands of employees across the country and that’s going to hamper our ability to deliver their services this year,” he said. “The magnitude of this can’t be understated.”

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Saturday

Alberta hopeful to receive Johnson & Johnson vaccines in short order

Jason Herring, Calgary

A Johnson & Johnson Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.
A Johnson & Johnson Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Alberta officials are hopeful to receive an initial supply of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines from the federal government soon, but there is still no timeline on when the doses will arrive.

Premier Jason Kenney said three weeks ago his government had requested an inventory of the single-shot vaccine from Ottawa in a bid to bolster sluggish immunization rates in some areas of rural Alberta. Kenney projected those shots could be available in the first week of October.

Alberta Health said Friday the province has requested up to 20,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, also known as Janssen.

“We and several other provinces are in discussions with the National Operations Centre, and we’re hopeful that we’ll receive an initial supply soon,” said Alberta Health spokesperson Lisa Glover.

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“We’ll update Albertans as soon as we have confirmed delivery information.”

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Letter of the day

Foreign funding may have a hand in anti-oilsands groups. (Cartoon by Malcolm Mayes)
Foreign funding may have a hand in anti-oilsands groups. (Cartoon by Malcolm Mayes) Malcolm Mayes

Vaccine mandates encourage obesity

Re. “Public health ignores critical issue,” David Staples, Oct. 20

For the first time in a long time, I agree with Mr. Staples. Our entire health-care system does seem to be focused almost entirely on vaccines and have completely neglected other aspects of health, such as obesity, which is a clear comorbidity for COVID-19 infection.

Conversely, exercise reduces obesity, improves immune system functioning, and has a whole myriad of other benefits too lengthy to properly discuss here. So I don’t understand why our government insists on restricting these benefits only for those who have been double-vaccinated. Do they want us to gain weight and become more prone to getting sick?

Ron Bereznicki, EdmontonRead more letters to the editor

Letters Welcome

We invite you to write letters to the editor. A maximum of 150 words is preferred. Letters must carry a first and last name, or two initials and a last name, and include an address and daytime telephone number. All letters are subject to editing. We don’t publish letters addressed to others or sent to other publications. Email: letters@edmontonjournal.com

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Friday

Albertans to have access to internationally recognized QR code by end of November

Kellen Taniguchi

Alberta Health is working closely with the federal government to create a QR code that will be internationally recognized and facilitate international travel.
Alberta Health is working closely with the federal government to create a QR code that will be internationally recognized and facilitate international travel. Photo by Darren Makowichuk /Postmedia, file

Albertans can expect to have access to a national standardized proof of vaccination QR code by the end of November, according to Alberta Health.

Amanda Krumins, assistant communications director for Alberta Health, said they are working closely with the federal government to create the QR code that will be internationally recognized and facilitate international travel.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced at a Thursday news conference that all provinces and territories have agreed to move forward with the standardized proof of vaccination.

According to Ottawa, provinces and territories will tailor their own vaccine passports to have the same look, feel and security measures based on the international standard. The word “Canada” will be visible in the top corner.

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Friday

656 new COVID-19 cases, 12 additional deaths

Kellen Taniguchi

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The province reported 656 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday.

There are now 10,037 active cases in Alberta, 397 fewer than the previous day. The Calgary Zone has the most with 2,554 active cases, followed by the Edmonton Zone with 2,355 active cases.

Hospitalizations and patients in intensive care continue to decline across the province with 889 COVID patients in hospital as of Friday, 23 fewer than the previous day. ICU capacity declined by 10, with 191 ICU patients currently admitted.

Alberta reported 12 additional COVID-related deaths on Friday.

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Friday

AHS extends mandatory COVID-19 immunization deadline for employees to Nov. 30

Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO of Alberta Health Services, speaks at an update on Alberta’s COVID-19 situation on Thursday Sept. 9, 2021 in Edmonton. The province has recorded more than 1,500 new COVID-19 infections in the last 24 hours.
Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO of Alberta Health Services, speaks at an update on Alberta’s COVID-19 situation on Thursday Sept. 9, 2021 in Edmonton. The province has recorded more than 1,500 new COVID-19 infections in the last 24 hours. Photo by Larry Wong /Postmedia

Alberta Health Services (AHS) has extended the mandatory COVID-19 immunization deadline for employees.

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The deadline for all AHS employees, medical and midwifery staff, students, volunteers and contracted healthcare providers to comply with its mandatory immunization policy has been extended to Nov. 30.

In a Friday news release AHS president and CEO, Dr. Verna Yiu said they were extending the deadline to give all employees more time to submit their proof of vaccination and to get fully vaccinated if they hadn’t already done so.

“We’re providing more time so our workforce is as safe and robust as it can be,” Yiu said in the release.

AHS is reporting that 94 per cent of full-time and part-time employees, as well as 94 per cent of AHS physicians, have submitted proof of having two doses of COVID-19 vaccine. More than 97 per cent of ICU staff are fully immunized.

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This policy also applies to approximately 28,000 casual employees of AHS. Currently, 76 per cent of casual employees have submitted proof of immunization. With casual employees included, the immunization status of the organization is about 90 per cent.

A small number of continuing care sites, particularly in rural communities where immunizations rates are low, are a point of concern. Extending the deadline will ensure staff at these sites have an opportunity to report their immunization and for sites to develop contingency plans as needed.

“At the end of the day, it’s about protecting patients, continuing care residents, and anyone in our care, as well as looking out for our staff. We have a responsibility to do that,” said Yiu.

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To date, AHS has received over 1,400 requests for medical or religious exemption. All requests will be reviewed before the Nov. 30 deadline. Only legitimate medical or religious exemptions will be accommodated and employees who are not fully immunized in compliance with the policy will be placed on an unpaid leave of absence.

On Tuesday AHS reported that 61 employees quit over a requirement to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination ahead of the previous deadline to declare of Oct. 31.  11 registered nurses and 31 in clinical roles were among those who had given notice over the mandate first announced in August .

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