New XBB 1.5 booster doses are now available for those whose last dose was at least 6 months (168 days) ago. Currently they are only allowed to be given to high risk individuals - so people over 65 or anybody with a medical condition at risk of complications of COVID, or indigineous.
Everyone in Ontario aged 6 months should be immunized against COVID - the benefit is greater than the risk for everybody (unless you have had a serious adverse reaction to prior immunization). If you are getting immunized for the first time - the new dosing recommendation is a single shot for those 5 years and older and 2 shots for those 6 months to 5 years old.
Now that we are entering the "respiratory virus season" it is a good idea to wear a mask in congregate settings.
COVID-19 is a respiratory infection that is transmitted in droplets that we spread when we breath or cough. Though there has been controversy about droplet born vs airborn, droplet protections are still quite effective at reducing risk.
Several vaccines have been demonstrated to be effective and safe of which six are so far approved in Canada, the Pfizer Comirnaty and the Moderna Spikevax vaccines are mRNA vaccines. The Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines are DNA vaccines in a safe viral vector. AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are still excellent vaccines, but are mostly unavailable now. Novavax' Nuvaxovid (ages 18 up) is a recombinant protein vaccine. Medicago's Covifenz (ages 18-64) is Canada's own vaccine made from plant based protein.
Religious concerns: Please note that if you are Catholic, your church approves the use of any COVID-19 vaccine, though I think they prefer the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. You can link to the usccb.org website and search up COVID-19 vaccine.
Some treatments that have some benefit:
1) Paxlovid - available for people at risk of serious outcomes - must be started within 5 days of symptom onset.
2) There is some evidence that Remdesivir can reduce duration of illness in those severely infected, but does not improve survivability. Remdesivir is an injected medication and is not available in pharmacies, and certainly not over the internet. Our local hospital will start to carry remdesivir despite its dubious benefit - but access will be very limited.
3) Dexamethasone looks like it can improve outcomes for those with moderate disease or worse - that means in hospital and on oxygen. More of an effect is seen if used in somebody in ICU on a ventilator. It appears to worsen mortality in those who are not in this situation. Dexamethasone works by suppressing the immune system and therefore carries increased risk of invasive fungal infections.
4) Tocilizumab looks beneficial, but it is only available to those with severe COVID illness in the ICU and is given by injection. It is not clear if it helps reduce mortality, but it does reduce ventilator usage.
5) The monoclonal antibiodies that were effective before, are no longer effective as of the Omicron BA2 variety.
Omicron, unlike prior strains is a very different virus. While up until now we have seen droplet spread mostly, we may now be dealing with airborne spread, which is exceptionally difficult to prevent. At this point so many people have been immunized or infected, that public health measures have been reduced, though.
To get tested - call the following numbers for an appointment depending on where you live:
Find all sites by going to: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/assessment-centre-locations/
Residents of Oakville, Milton, or Halton Hills - call the OTMH testing centre directly at 905-203-7963
Residents of Burlington - call 905-632-3737 ext 6550.
Residents of Mississauga / Peel - http://trilliumhealthpartners.ca/covid-19/A/assessment.html#starthere
Residents living elsewhere https://covid-19.ontario.ca/assessment-centre-locations/
Or call TeleHealth - 1 866-797-0000
For trustworthy information on COVID-19, please go to the sites below: