News

COVID-19 Vaccination Information

January 20, 2021

Happy New Year,

I know there are many questions regarding the vaccine, on both sides of the fence; is it safe? How do you know? How soon can I get it? I have created a little FAQ for the COVID-19 vaccine below. If you have any questions please reach out and I can help get you answers. When looking for answers, look for reliable sources such as Health Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada, Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA), NS Government, CDC, WHO, NACI, Immunize Canada.

Misinformation can be spread very fast via social media, especially when we’re talking about COVID-19 as the information is rapidly changing as we learn more and more each day. When you are reading new information: Look where the information is coming from, is it a verified source? Look who is sharing it, is the original poster someone who has any credentials in the field they are talking about? Look at the date, is this the most up-to-date information? Do a google check to a verified website, has the information been altered in a way to make a better headline?

It can be a time of hope, fear, and overwhelming amount of information. If you need help understanding it all, or want your questions answered, just reach out!

Chelsea Sawyer
Community Health Nurse
Acadia First Nation
902-627-1245

Resource list

Nova Scotia Vaccine info: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/vaccine/
Health Canada main page for vaccine updates: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/covid19-industry/drugs-vaccines-treatments/vaccines.html
Pfizer: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/covid19-industry/drugs-vaccines-treatments/vaccines/pfizer-biontech.html
Moderna: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/covid19-industry/drugs-vaccines-treatments/vaccines/moderna.html
All about mRNA vaccines: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/covid19-industry/drugs-vaccines-treatments/vaccines/type-mrna.html
All about viral vector-based vaccines: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/covid19-industry/drugs-vaccines-treatments/vaccines/type-viral-vector.html
Vaccine safety: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/vaccination-children/safety-concerns-side-effects.html
Video How Vaccines Are Developed: https://youtu.be/Y51ZgZCS8J0
Vaccine Safety: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/video/covid-19-how-vaccines-developed.html
Nova Scotia vaccine information: http://www.nshealth.ca/coronavirusvaccine

What is the COVID-19 vaccine?

Currently, there are two vaccines approved for use against COVID-19 in Canada; Pfizer and Moderna. Both of these vaccines are mRNA vaccines, which means they do not use live vaccine piece, and act like a recipe for your body to create the “spike protein” like the coronavirus has, that triggers your body into making antibodies. You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine.

Moderna overview: This vaccine has been approved for people who are 18 years or older. Safety and effectiveness have not yet been established in people younger. Moderna vaccine was approved on Dec 23, 2020 and is an mRNA vaccine used to prevent COVID-19. It is given by injection into the muscle in the arm, in two doses at least 28 days apart. In clinical studies based on 30,000 participants it was shown to be 94.1% effective in preventing COVID-19 beginning two weeks after the second dose. As with all vaccines, some side effects that pose no health risk are common such as pain at injection site, body chills, feeling feverish, feeling tired. As always, there is a risk of severe reaction, but is very rare, such as allergic reaction. All adverse events must be documented and reported. The trials continue as they include a larger demographic and the company plans to follow participants for a minimum of 2 years after their second dose.

Pfizer overview: This vaccine has been approved for people who are 16 years or older. Safety and effectiveness have not yet been established in people younger. Pfizer vaccine was approved on Dec 9, 2020 and is an mRNA vaccine used to prevent COVID-19. It is given by injection into the muscle in the arm, in two doses at least 21 days apart. In clinical studies based on 44,000 participants it was shown to be 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 beginning one week after the second dose. As with all vaccines, some side effects that pose no health risk are common such as pain at injection site, body chills, feeling feverish, feeling tired. As always, there is a risk of severe reaction, but is very rare, such as allergic reaction. All adverse events must be documented and reported. The trials continue as they include a larger demographic and the company plans to follow participants for a minimum of 2 years after their second dose.

How does the vaccine work?

There are two different types of vaccines being developed, these are called mRNA vaccines or viral vector-based vaccines. Many are still in development and some are awaiting review and approval by Health Canada. The two vaccines already approved for use in Canada are both mRNA vaccines. Essentially, these vaccines act as a recipe to teach our cells how to make copies of the coronavirus’ spike protein. This does not cause the disease, but triggers an immune response to that protein creating antibodies ready to fight if you encounter the actual virus. You can find more information https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/covid19-industry/drugs-vaccines-treatments/vaccines.html

Who should get the vaccine?

Everyone is at risk of getting COVID-19, and complications can vary greatly in severity and duration. If you are 16 years or older, you will be eligible for a vaccine, which is free in Canada. Those who are more likely to be in contact with the virus (front line workers) or higher risk of complications (long term care, over the age of 60, additional health concerns) are especially encourage to get the vaccine when it is available to them.

Each vaccine company has a list of “exclusions” or contraindications such as autoimmune diseases or anaphylactic allergy that may deem you ineligible at this time. Prior to being vaccinated you will be screened for these. These contraindications or exclusions aren’t necessarily because it’s dangerous, but due to lack of data at this time.

This means that as more data is collected or reviewed, more people may become eligible. For example, the SOGC (Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada) has issued a statement (can be found on their website: https://www.sogc.org/en/content/featured-news/SOGC_Statement_on_COVID-19_Vaccination_in_Pregnancy.aspx) stating that all pregnant and breastfeeding people should be offered the vaccine if no other contraindications are present.

When can I get the vaccine?

Unfortunately, at this time we do not have a time frame on when our community will be receiving vaccines. The province has laid out their plan for vaccination rollout which can be found at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/symptoms-and-testing/#vaccine This plan was informed by the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations (NACI) based on assessment of risk and vulnerability. If you fall into one of the risk categories, you may be contacted to schedule your immunization. The plan may also change, or new groups may become priority as things are re-evaluated and more supply is available so stay tuned!

Once I have the vaccine, that’s it? I’m good?

The short answer, not quite. We are still waiting to see how long immunity lasts, as mentioned before clinical trials continue, as well as all the data from the many countries administering these vaccines. Some vaccines protect you for life, some require yearly, or even every 10-year boosters (are you up to date on your tetanus shot?). As time goes on, we will know more about the length of protection. The other question still be looked at, is can you be asymptomatic with the vaccine and pass on the virus to others. While we know the vaccine helps prevent the disease and symptoms of the virus, it’s not 100% known yet. That means that we will have to continue to follow public health guidelines regardless of immunization status, until we have that information and build community herd immunity.

How did these vaccines get approved so quickly? How do I know they are safe?

This is a long answer, and I’d be happy to talk to you about it over the phone or by email, or send you more information you can look over. You can also speak with your pharmacist, or family care provider.

Research began in March of 2020, due to the pandemic, a lot of people were invested in making this happen. This means that more funds were available, more people were working together, sharing knowledge, and companies were able to have more people in their studies as well. The vaccines were still rigorously tested, and still had to meet all safety processes and standards, including three phases of clinical trials. There were 10,000s of study participants in the various clinical trials meaning the safety data is there. Health Canada reviews to ensure: its safe, it works, the manufacturing process is consistent and high-quality, and that the benefits of getting the vaccine outweigh the risk of not getting it. There is strong evidence that the vaccine is safe, and works for people 18 years and over including seniors, and is highly effective across age, sex, race, and ethnicity.

Watch this video on vaccine safety: https://youtu.be/Y51ZgZCS8J0

You can find more information on the Government of Canada website https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/vaccination-children/safety-concerns-side-effects.html

Acadia First Nation Expresses Condolences in the Tragic Accident on Board Chief William Saulis Vessel

Media Release Acadia First Nation Expresses Condolences 17 Dec 2020

COVID-19 Update # 16 from the AFN Health Director | December 9, 2020

Dec 9, 2020

Health Director Update

Update from Nova Scotia Health on first COVID-19 vaccine supply to arrive in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Health has been planning for several weeks to prepare for vaccine distribution, site planning, human resources and other potential requirements. We are now moving into high gear.

Nova Scotia will receive its first allotment of 1950 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine next week and will begin with immunizing healthcare workers most directly involved in the COVID-19 response in Central Zone. The focus for December is Central Zone because the Pfizer vaccine can’t be moved around the province given its strict storage, handling and transportation requirements.

Healthcare workers to be immunized first include those working in COVID-19 care units, Regional Care Units and intensive care units that care for COVID-19 patients. We are committed to ensuring that all healthcare workers are provided access to vaccine as additional supply becomes available.

Nova Scotia Health Occupational Health and Safety will be supporting immunization plans for healthcare workers.

A mass immunization effort of this scale will require significant resources and unparalleled collaboration with partners at federal, provincial and community levels. Many factors that will affect the timeline for distribution, such as vaccine supply, system resources and logistics.

At this time, we are working on our operational plans for vaccination clinics. We commit to sharing updates with you as soon as possible when information becomes available. Thanks for your ongoing patience and understanding.

Booking begins for asymptomatic testing across the province

Starting Tuesday, Dec. 8, Nova Scotians around the province with no COVID-19 symptoms can book appointments for testing. It is mainly recommended for people who have a lot of close social interaction through gatherings or many social contacts.

“This is an opportunity for Nova Scotians to help keep each other safe, especially as we approach the holiday season,” said Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health. “By getting tested, you can help us limit the potential spread of the virus by detecting positive cases in people who do not have symptoms.”

Asymptomatic testing is available for people who:

  • do not have symptoms
  • have not travelled outside the Atlantic provinces within the past 14 days
  • have not visited a potential exposure location
  • have not been in contact with someone who has tested positive

In Central Zone, people can go to the Zatzman Sportsplex in Dartmouth for an asymptomatic test without an appointment. In all other zones, appointments are required and can be booked at https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/ , choosing the asymptomatic option. Appointments can be booked until Dec. 13.

In addition, pop-up sites will continue in different locations around the province. Because they use rapid tests, the age limit is 16 and over at these sites.

People getting tested through this process are not required to self-isolate while waiting for their test or results. People getting tested for other reasons can find their self-isolation requirements at http://www.nshealth.ca/what-do-i-need-know-about-covid-19-testing-and-self-isolation .

time of testing but it does not mean that they could not become infectious in the next few days. People who receive a negative test result must continue to follow public health measures and if they develop symptoms, immediately self-isolate and complete the COVID-19 self-assessment.

The number of tests that can be done is based on the need to prioritize testing of people who have symptoms and close contacts of known cases. Not everyone who comes forward for an asymptomatic test will necessarily get one.

Everyone is reminded to keep their social circles small and follow public health measures including wearing masks, physical distancing, practicing good hand hygiene, and staying home and completing the COVID-19 self-assessment if they have symptoms.

Marla Robinson-Pyne
Health Director Acadia First Nation
Yarmouth Health Centre
15234 Hwy 3
Yarmouth NS, B5A 4A8

COVID-19 Update # 15 from the AFN Health Director | December 3, 2020

Dec 3, 2020

Health Director Update

Please keep up to date with NS public exposure notices:

http://www.nshealth.ca/covid-exposures?title=&field_covid_exposure_zone_value=All&order=field_covid_exposure_zone&sort=asc

Coronavirus (COVID-19): download COVID Alert

covidalert

COVID Alert is a free exposure notification app. The app lets you know if you may have been exposed to COVID-19. You can also use the app to let others know if you test positive without sharing any personal information.

https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/covid-alert-app/

Along with following public health guidance, you can download COVID Alert to help reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The more people who use the app, the more effective it will be in helping to protect each other and our communities.

How COVID Alert works

  1. If someone tests positive for COVID-19, they receive a one-time key from their local health authority to enter into the app.
  2. The app uses your phone’s Bluetooth signal to detect how close you are to other people with the app.
  3. If someone you’ve been in close contact with (more than 15 minutes, less than 2 metres apart, over the past 14 days) later tests positive for COVID-19, you’re notified through the app that you may have been exposed. You also get advice on what to do next.

Your privacy is important

COVID Alert doesn’t collect personally identifiable information about you. The app has no way of knowing:

  • your location
  • your name or address
  • the place or time you were near someone
  • your health information

Phone compatibility

COVID Alert should work on any smartphone released in the last 5 years including iPhone 6S or newer (running iOS 13.5 or newer) and Android devices running Android version 6 or newer.

Download the app

COVID Alert is free. It’s available for iOS and Android.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): what to do if you may have been exposed

Steps you should take to monitor your health and protect others if you’ve been notified by COVID Alert or think you’ve been exposed to COVID-19.

Step 1: Watch for symptoms

Watch for symptoms. Symptoms can vary from person to person and in different age groups. Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to COVID-19. To help protect others, it’s especially important to watch for symptoms if you’re going to public places, your workplace and settings where it’s difficult to keep a physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from others.

Step 2: Find out if you need a COVID-19 test

Complete a COVID-19 Self-assessment if you feel unwell or have any COVID-19 symptoms. You can call 811 for assessment if you’re unable to complete the COVID-19 Self-assessment online (or to speak with a nurse). If the assessment determines that you need a test, Nova Scotia Health Authority or IWK Health Centre will call you within 1 to 2 days to book the testing appointment.

Step 3: If you test positive for COVID-19 - notify COVID Alert

Self-isolate if you have tested positive for COVID-19.

You can also use COVID Alert to let others know if you test positive without sharing any personal information. If you test positive for COVID-19, Public Health gives you a one-time key over the phone when you get your positive test result. You will only get one key and it expires in 24 hours or after you enter the key into the COVID Alert app.

In the event that you are notified by Public Health that you have been exposed you will be given instruction by the contact tracing public health team on testing, self-isolation and any other requirements set forth by the Government of NS.

What is Contact Tracing?

Contact tracing is the process of identifying, assessing, and managing people who have been exposed to a disease to prevent onward transmission. When systematically applied, contact tracing will break the chains of transmission of COVID-19 and is an essential public health tool for controlling the virus.

Contact tracing for COVID-19 requires identifying people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and following them up daily for 14 days from the last point of exposure.

As always, remember the best defense against Covid-19 and keeping yourself and others safe is to practice social distancing, Keeping your hands clean, cough and sneeze etiquette, cleaning and disinfecting and wearing a non-medical mask.

Marla Robinson-Pyne
Health Director Acadia First Nation
Yarmouth Health Centre
15234 Hwy 3
Yarmouth NS
B5A4A8
Phone: (902)742-4337
Fax: (902)742-4824

COVID-19 Update from Our Community Health Nurse

Community Members,

As you probably know, the second wave of Covid-19 has hit Nova Scotia. Much like the rest of the world, it is spreading quickly. The majority of cases are currently in HRM and Hants County areas, and so the Premier and Chief Medical Officer have tightened restrictions in those areas. The restriction guide for each county can be found here:

https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/county-restrictions/

A summary of the new restrictions can be found below:

  • bars and restaurants are closed to in-person dining (takeout may continue)
  • maximum of 5 guests per household
  • groups of no more than 5 people allowed outside the home (group should remain as consistent as possible)
  • casino and other gaming establishments, fitness centres, libraries, and museums are closed
  • organized sports, recreational activities, faith-based and cultural gatherings, are not permitted
  • masks must now be worn in common areas of multi-unit dwellings such as apartment buildings and condos (in addition to all previous mask mandates)
    retail stores must operate at 25% capacity or below

Please read the following pages for more information, tips for the holiday season, and important resources.

TIS THE SEASON…

The holiday season is upon us! It brings with it an extra layer of difficulty (to already difficult times) as we want to shop ‘til we drop and gather with family and friends. While we don’t yet know what restrictions will be closer to the holidays, it is time to start thinking about how we can adapt to celebrate safely, but happily. Here are some things to consider under current restrictions:

  • shop online
  • take advantage of curbside pickup - available with many stores when ordering online or by phone
  • “click and collect” available with many grocery stores (Superstore PC Express, Sobeys Voila, Walmart Grocery)
  • shop small/local businesses & avoid crowded malls etc.
  • shop “off-hours” - stores are typically less crowded through the day on weekdays, an hour before close, and mornings on weekends

DO YOUR PART…

One of the most important things to remember is if you are feeling unwell, stay home if you can, and if you can’t, minimize interactions, making only essential trips outside the home. By reducing the number of sick people in our province, it helps to reduce the load on our health care system, which is vital during a pandemic. One symptom can quickly turn into more, and potentially require a Covid-19 test, and/or treatment. We want to avoid passing any symptoms around stores, our work places, our communities etc. as it can quickly become complicated. While you may be “fine” with a cold or flu, the next person may be required to stay home, get tested, seek medical attention, or even be hospitalized. It is more important than ever that we protect one another this winter. You can find the 811 self-assessment and booking site here:

http://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/en or you can call 8-1-1

FLU SHOTS

The flu shot helps protect you and your community. Especially this year, preventing the flu is one more way we can help reduce the load on our health care system. If you haven’t received one yet, you can book an appointment at the Gold River Health Centre (ongoing while quantities last) by calling 902-627-1245 or email . Flu shots will also be available at the Yarmouth Health Centre on December 1st, you can book by calling 902-742-4337.

SELF-BOOKING

Please note that many diagnostics sites are now setup for self-booking, such as ECG, bloodwork, or x-ray. If you have a requisition, you can book here:

https://booking.nshealth.ca/qmaticwebbooking/index.html#/

FEDERAL SICK DAYS

The federal government has announced a new benefit to help ease the stress of having to stay home, for those who have no paid sick leave through their employer. The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefits (CRSB) pays for up to 10 sick days should you have to stay home with symptoms, awaiting test results, a positive case of Covid-19, or are a caregiver to someone who is required to isolate. You can find more information here:

https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/benefits/recovery-sickness-benefit.html

MENTAL HEALTH

Please know, this pandemic is hard on everyone, and you are not alone in feeling stressed, anxious, confused, or frustrated. If you are struggling, or finding it hard to manage, please reach out. We have adult and child/youth mental health clinicians at both Health Centres, in Gold River and Yarmouth. In addition, NIHB covers 2 hours of initial assessment plus 20 hours of ongoing mental health counselling sessions, and more may be available on a case-by-case basis. NIHB covers psychologists, social workers, psychiatric nurses, psychotherapists, and other regulated mental health providers permitted to practice by legislation (ie: registered counselling therapists). They must be in good standing and willing to complete the paperwork with NIHB to be on the “approved list”. You can find more information here:

https://www.sac-sc.gc.ca/eng/1576093404318/1579114266033

Or you can reach out to the Community Health Nurse to help you navigate this.

PLEASE REMEMBER…

  • wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds, or with alcohol-based hand sanitizer when washing isn’t an option
  • wear a mask over your nose and mouth in all indoor public spaces, minimize the contact of hand to mask, and be mindful of clean hands when handling your mask
  • ensure physical distancing when interacting with anyone outside your group of 5-10 (depending on county restrictions)
  • respect capacity rules and follow directions when entering, exiting, and navigating through public spaces
  • be kind, be patient, be respectful

thebubble

We’re all in this together!

Chelsea Sawyer
AFN Community Health Nurse
902-627-1245

Letter to Acadia First Nation Members | Clearwater

Clearwater Letter