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Hamilton records 399th COVID-19 death, expert says constantly changing advice on vaccines is normal

The remaining restrictions included limits on the size of outdoor and indoor and province-wide masking mandate. Global News

Hamilton reported seven new COVID-19 cases on Monday, and the city’s 399th death amid the pandemic.

The deceased was a person in their 60s, according to public health data. The city has seen three COVID-19-related deaths over three days.

Two people over 80 died on the weekend, with one connected to an outbreak at the Dundas Retirement Place.

Read more: Ontario reports 270 new COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths

There have been six total cases at the seniors’ home since its outbreak began on June 10.

An outbreak at Hamilton General’s Unit 7S was closed on Sunday after 18 days. The stroke inpatient unit had a total of six cases involving patients, with a single virus-related death.

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The city has five outbreaks as of June 21 with a total of 24 reported cases. The largest ongoing surge is at the Denholme Manor supportive home, which accounts for 12 cases since May 23.

For the fifth day in a row, the seven-day average number of new cases checked in at 17, with the city’s active cases declining for the third day in a row from 154 on Sunday to 146 on Monday.

Click to play video: 'Ontario accelerating 2nd-dose vaccine eligibility again' Ontario accelerating 2nd-dose vaccine eligibility again
Ontario accelerating 2nd-dose vaccine eligibility again – Jun 21, 2021

More than 67 per cent of the city’s active cases are among people under the age of 50, with about 17 per cent of cases among those aged 19 and under.

Science table doc says changing advice on vaccines is normal amid accelerated studies

With delays expected in the arrival of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, a number of Ontario public health units are expected to scale up doses of the Moderna vaccine as an alternative.

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Public Health Ontario says the Pfizer shipments are expected to be two to three days behind schedule, while a total of 5.2 million Moderna shots will arrive on Canadian soil in the next few days.

On Saturday, Toronto Public Health revealed it would only administer Moderna shots for the first part of this week with the delay, even for those who received a different brand for their first dose.

Read more: Fully vaccinated Canadians can enter country without quarantine on July 5

The director of Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table says those who get a Moderna dose instead of an expected Pfizer shot shouldn’t worry since the vaccines are almost the same.

“For these two, they’re really comparable,” Dr. Peter Juni told Global News.

“Everything we know, we just need to get these shots now on board because we need optimal protection. We’re in a race against time, against reopening.”

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Hamilton’s medical officer of health says the city still has Pfizer shots “on hand” but is reserving those shots ages 12 thru 17 since it’s the only one of all the vaccines approved for use with that age group.

“This is whether it’s your first or second doses,” Dr. Elizabeth Richardson said during the city’s pandemic update on Monday.

“There will be times in our clinics where if you’re going there, you will not be able to ask for a Pfizer vaccine if that’s what you got earlier, except for those that are between the ages of 12 and 17 years.”

In recent weeks, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has updated its guidance on mixing and matching vaccine shots, including the suggestion that those who got a first dose of AstraZeneca can receive Pfizer or Moderna as a second shot and that the two mRNA vaccines can be mixed between first and second shots.

Juni says changes in instruction are par for the course when battling a mutating virus and that the difference with COVID-19 is how often advice changes due to the urgency of the spread.

“Typically, one of these cycles is several years. We’re doing that in real time now; our cycles sometimes are just several weeks,” said Juni.

Click to play video: 'Pfizer or Moderna? ‘There’s no better or worse,’ Ontario’s COVID-19 science chief says' Pfizer or Moderna? ‘There’s no better or worse,’ Ontario’s COVID-19 science chief says
Pfizer or Moderna? ‘There’s no better or worse,’ Ontario’s COVID-19 science chief says – Jun 20, 2021

The epidemiologist says the desperation of the pandemic has sped up research on the virus and what’s being learned about the affliction.

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“And this means the guidance can change not every year, but every few weeks. This is absolutely normal,” Juni said.

As of Monday, Hamilton is one of 10 public health units considered a COVID-19 hot spot, accelerating the eligibility for residents to book a second dose.

Public health revealed on Friday that individuals who received their first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) on or before May 9 are now eligible to book or rebook their second dose appointment.

Read more: Ontarians encouraged to see mRNA shots as interchangeable as province expands 2nd dose eligibility again

Meanwhile, those who received their first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine on or before May 30, 2021 will be eligible to book or rebook their second dose appointment starting Wednesday morning.

People aged 18 and over who got an mRNA vaccine can start booking their second shots the week of June 28, but no sooner than 28 days after they received their first dose.

Appointments can be made via the provincial online booking system, at 104 participating pharmacies or at clinics run by primary care partners.

As of Thursday, 71.8 per cent of adults in Hamilton have had at least a single shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, with at least 443,000 doses administered.

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Read more: Canada set to receive 5.2M COVID-19 vaccine doses this week

Around 50 per cent of youth aged 12 to 17 years have received at least one dose as of June 17.

Juni says as the science evolves, the province is learning that young people may have a stronger immune response after just a single vaccine dose. The data suggests the province can wait on giving second shots among that age group beyond current recommended intervals by the manufacturers.

“We may see that actually, one dose is very protective already for a 14-year-old boy or so, and we’ll see how this goes during the next six to eight weeks,” said Juni.

So far, Ontario does not have a timetable for vaccinating those under the age of 12. Juni says more research on efficacy needs to be studied before rolling out a plan.

“To be honest, I think it will take longer for below 12-year-olds because there’s also those findings that is still going on,” Juni said.

“We don’t know yet about the right dose. I would believe that it probably will take until the end of the year, beginning of next year.”

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