Like many of you we share the collective disbelief that we are in Wave 4 of the pandemic, with numbers increasing daily and back to school being just around the corner. We know how tired you are but despite that exhaustion, you are and have always been there for your patients and community.
Thank you again for all you do day in and day out, especially during these unprecedented and challenging times. Please find below some additional resources and supports you may find helpful.
As primary care continues to ramp up in-person care, the Ministry of Health released updated primary care guidance and the CPSO provided new information on striking the right balance between providing in-person care and virtual care.
These individual decisions should be made by each provider and team and these resources may help in your decision-making. The OCFP’s Considerations for In-Person and Virtual Care document has also been updated and we are waiting for additional clinical decision-making tools on striking the right balance between in-person and virtual care which we will share once it becomes available.
As announced on August 17th, the Ministry will begin to offer third doses to the most vulnerable Ontarians including those in high-risk congregate settings and those that are immunocompromised – you can read more about that announcement here*. To help with identifying those eligible for third doses, the eHealth Centre of Excellence (eCE) is currently developing the queries for PS Suites, Oscar and Accuro – more details to follow.
Let’s get closer to 100% - Every health care team member, every patient, every encounter
In collaboration with all health sector partners, the OMA has supported the development of some messaging to encourage every health care visit include a discussion around vaccines. Whether the visit is in-person or virtual, health professionals and teams can be powerful influencers when it comes to vaccine acceptance. At check-in, during the encounter, or at the end - just the act of asking about vaccine status makes a difference:
- Ask: “Have you had a chance to get the COVID-19 vaccine yet?” Every health care team member, every patient, every encounter.
- Share: “I got the vaccine. I helped my friends and family to get it too”. Listen to your patients’ concerns, share your personal experiences of vaccination, your knowledge about the vaccines, and your hope for an optimistic Canada once more of us are vaccinated. If you are comfortable doing so, tell the patient why you think a vaccine is a good decision for them.
- Connect: “This is where you can get a vaccine.” Know where vaccines are being offered locally (e.g., your team, other primary care clinics, pharmacy, mass clinics, pop up clinics) and point your patients there.
By making this concerted push now, we can limit the effects of the fourth wave this fall, one patient at a time. To help support those opportunistic vaccine visits, please see the attached memo from the Chief Medical Officer of Health (Dr. Kieran Moore) and the Chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force (Dr. Homer Tien) on managing those unused vaccine doses vials.
As in other jurisdictions, there are early indicators of slowing vaccination rates for the 12-17 age group. There appears to be a variety of reasons for increasing hesitancy, but the main rationale is the perceived safety of vaccines, including:
- Concerns from parents about what the long-term effects of a new vaccine will be on their children; and
- Concerns about the evolving reports of adverse health events resulting from vaccine administration, including myocarditis.
Here are some key messages to use in your conversations about the vaccines with children/youth:
- All vaccines provided in Ontario provide strong protection against COVID-19 and its variants.
- Health Canada approved vaccines are conveniently available at hospitals, doctors’ offices, pharmacies, and mass vaccination sites.
- Vaccinating as many people as possible is the most important thing we can do to protect against COVID-19 and help us all get back to normal life as soon as possible.
- Every dose brings us closer to what we’ve missed.
- Vaccines are the best way to protect your child and your family from COVID-19, including highly contagious variants.
- The faster everyone gets vaccinated, the sooner we can all safely resume doing the things we’ve missed.
- When you and your kids 12 and over get vaccinated, it helps protect other family members too, such as those under 12 who can’t get vaccinated yet, or older individuals who may have a lower immune response to the vaccines.
- Ensuring youth 12-17 are vaccinated means getting them back to class, to sports, to band practice, and to being kids again.
Resources for patients:
- To book a vaccine visit https://covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine/ or call the Ontario COVID-19 vaccine call centre at 1 833 943 3900
- To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines from the Government of Canada
- Resources on COVID-19 in multiple languages from the Government of Ontario
Resources for health care providers:
- Get the evidence to respond to common patient concerns about the vaccine from the Centre for Effective Practice
- Read about how other providers approach addressing specific patient concerns in this interactive tool, developed by the University of Calgary
- Access an in-depth learning module about the COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine hesitancy from the University of Toronto’s Department of Family and Community Medicine
- Ontario.ca/COVIDYouthVaccine website – Information about Ontario’s youth vaccination program and the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines for youth.
- Kids Health First website – Content about COVID-19 for youth curated and created by experts from the Children’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Table.
- COVID-19 vaccine safety | COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Ontario
Ontario Health will be hosting its next COVID@Home CoP on September 8th at 8:00 a.m. They will share their thoughts on the QI evaluation to date, review any new or emerging evidence and discuss the group needs moving forward. Please click here to register or see attached flyer for more details.
If you are a clinician or staff who participated in the implementation of, or patient care for, the COVID@Home initiative OH would be grateful to hear about your or your patients’ experiences. Please fill in this survey link or contact Julie Datta (firstname.lastname@example.org) to participate.
Additional Resources you may find helpful:
- Myocarditis and Pericarditis After Covid-19 Vaccination: A primer for Primary Care Professionals developed by group of family physicians, pediatricians, cardiologists, immunologists, and pharmacists
- COVID-19 Antibody Tests for Healthcare Professionals from the Focused Communications team
- Resources from 19 to Zero
We look forward to continually updating you on the provincial vaccination strategy and hope you continue to stay safe. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or ideas.
Yours in good health,
The AFHTO Team
*Please note that the news release also speaks to mandatory vaccination policies for high-risk health care settings. At the moment this is limited to hospitals, home and community care and paramedic services. To help support our teams with their policies, we have invited EDs, Admin Leads, lead MDs/NPs and board chairs to a webinar with an HR lawyer to address your questions. If this is relevant to your role, please discuss your participation with your leadership. If you are part of the triad mentioned above and have not received the registration email, please contact us and we will send the information to you.