Jump to sections in this article:
Overview of today’s cases
Vaccination
Demographics
Testing
Potential exposure advisories

A man in his 90s who lived in the Western zone has died from COVID. He is the 107th Nova Scotian to die from the disease.

Additionally, Nova Scotia has announced 60 new cases of COVID-19 over three days (Friday, Nov. 20-Sunday, Nov. 21).

By Nova Scotia Health zone, the new cases break down as:
• 35 Central
• 18 Northern
• 6 Western
• 1 Eastern

There are now 193 known active cases in the province. Sixteen people are in hospital with the disease, seven of whom are in ICU. Eighty-eight people are considered newly recovered, which means they are no longer contagious and not necessarily that they aren’t sick.


Vaccination

Dr. Joanne Langley

No vaccination data were released today; tomorrow’s figures will include the weekend’s. So today I’ll use this space to address a repeated concern I’ve heard about vaccinating children.

Since the federal government announced that it has approved vaccines for children aged 5-11, I’ve gotten comments along the lines of “kids don’t much get COVID, and when they do, it’s usually mild cases, so why should they risk be vaccinated?”

Honestly, when I started getting these comments on Twitter, I thought they came from trolls and other bad actors trying to disrupt the Public Health response to the pandemic — there truly are such bad actors, and more of them than we often acknowledge  — and I’ve just ignored them for fear of amplifying their false rhetoric, which is their aim.. But the same comment is coming from people I have no reason to believe are bad actors, so I’ll address the concern.

My personal response to the issue has always been: Children should get vaccinated for the same reason I got vaccinated. I don’t personally much fear COVID; I’m healthy and chances are I’ll fend off the illness just fine. I didn’t get the vaccine to protect myself. I got it so I wouldn’t spread the virus to those who won’t do so well with the illness. And there’s a larger calculation: the more people who get vaccinated, the less the virus will be circulating, and we’ll all be less at risk.

Let’s face it: children generally may not be much at risk individually, but they can be little disease vectors bringing that nasty virus to grandma and the other more vulnerable people around them. Saying children shouldn’t get vaccinated because of some minuscule and close-to-nonexistent risk to them from the vaccine is essentially saying “screw grandma!”

But I am no epidemiologist. So I asked Yvette d’Entremont to ask Dr. Joanne Langley the same question today. Langley is a professor of pediatrics and community health and epidemiology at Dalhousie University and is based at the IWK Health Centre. She’s also a researcher at the Canadian Center for Vaccinology, head of pediatric infectious diseases at the IWK, and serves as co-chairperson of the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force advising the federal government. Here’s their exchange:

d’Entremont: One thing that we’ve been hearing frequently, particularly since Friday’s announcement of Pfizer being approved for children ages 5 to 11 here in Canada, is that younger children don’t tend to get very sick, so it seems pointless and potentially reckless for us to be doing this. Some ask why we should vaccinate them if vaccination carries risks and these younger children likely won’t be severely impacted if they contract COVID-19. What do you say to people who have this concern or who raise this as a potential issue? Why is it important for young children, despite the fact that they don’t get sick in the same numbers to actually be vaccinated?

Langley: Even if a disease is less common for a certain age group, it can still be very serious and life threatening if you get it. So on a population wide basis, we may say that fewer children will have those serious outcomes. If you’re a child or a parent of a child or a family member of a child who gets those serious outcomes, they’re very important to you. And some of the serious outcomes we worry about are a certain number of children will get hospitalized. In the US about a third of children who are sick enough with COVID to be hospitalized require care in an intensive care unit.

There’s also really an unwritten story about long COVID, the symptoms lasting beyond three months in children. And that’s going to be a different story than adults because they would have those persistent symptoms at a time of growth and development of their brain, of their social skills, while they’re going to school. These are not effects we want to see in growing and developing children who are determining their path into adulthood. And for them to be sick for long periods of time or, heaven forbid that they have problems with their development because of COVID. We don’t know what long COVID will look like in children yet.

d’Entremont: By vaccinating that younger cohort, are you also cutting down on yet more people who have the ability to contract and pass COVID along?

Langley: Certainly there you can think about the benefits to the child and benefits to the community. And sometimes parents will think in the first instance about the benefits to their child, and I think it’s important to say there are benefits to the child. It will allow children to get back to their normal lives, and then there’s those community benefits that you just talked about. There is less chance of them spreading infection to other people and causing ongoing illness in the community.

d’Entremont: I noted to that the physician on CBC radio this morning also said that when you’re doing the whole cost-benefit analysis, the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to vaccination of younger children?

Langley: Yes, because the risk that you weigh vaccination against is the risk of getting COVID, and if you got COVID, the risk of all of the serious outcomes are much higher than if you get vaccinated.


Demographics

By age cohort, today’s new cases break down as:
• 26 are aged 0-11
• 0 are aged 12-19
• 9 are aged 20-39
• 13 are aged 40-59
• 11 are aged 60-79
• 1 is aged 80+

The active cases across the province are distributed as follows:

Central Zone
• 34 in the Halifax Peninsula/Chebucto Community Health Network
• 12 in the Dartmouth/Southeastern Community Health Network
• 39 in the Bedford/Sackville Community Health Network
• 3 in the Eastern Shore/Musquodoboit Community Health Network
• 1 in the West Hants Community Health Network
• 4 not assigned to a Community Health Network
Total: 93

Eastern Zone
• 1 in the Cape Breton Community Health Network
• 1 in the Inverness, Victoria & Richmond Community Health Network
• 2 in the Antigonish & Guysborough Community Health Network
Total: 4

Northern Zone
• 19 in the Colchester/East Hants Community Health Network
• 2 in the Pictou Community Health Network
• 48 in the Cumberland Community Health Network
Total: 69

Western Zone
• 8 in the Annapolis and Kings Community Health Network
• 9 in the Lunenburg & Queens Community Health Network
• 10 in the Yarmouth, Shelburne & Digby Community Health Network
Total: 27


Testing

Nova Scotia Health labs completed 3,942 PCR tests yesterday. This does not include the antigen tests administered at the pop-up testing sites.

You do not need a health card to get tested.

Pop-up testing (antigen testing) is for asymptomatic people over 16 who have not been to the potential COVID exposure sites (see map below); results usually within 20 minutes. Pop-up testing has been scheduled for the following sites:

Monday
Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm

Tuesday
Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm
Alderney Gate, 4-6pm

Wednesday
Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm
Alderney Gate, 10am-2pm

You can volunteer to work at the pop-up testing sites here or here. No medical experience is necessary.

You can also get PCR testing at the Nova Scotia Health labs by going here. Appointments can be made for the IWK, or for various locations in each of the health zones (appointments may not be available at each site).


Potential exposure advisories

Nova Scotia Health issued several potential COVID exposure advisory this weekend, and six new school exposures.

We’ve collected all the active advisories for potential COVID exposures on bus routes and flights here. I’ll be adding schools to the map tonight.

The updated potential COVID exposure advisory map is below; you can zoom in and click on the coronavirus icons to get information about each site.


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Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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  1. Bousquet: “being in the middle of a crisis in which anti-vaxxers are playing such a big role …”

    Social media are giving anti-vaxxers voice. But so are mainstream media, a voice perhaps out of proportion to anti-vaxxers numbers. By giving anti-vaxxers voice mainstream media legitimize them, helping increase their numbers. Anti-vaxxers are treated as quick copy, cheap copy. Stories about them amplify their simple, unexamined, one-dimensional defence of free speech and individual rights. This, in the context of the common good, needs challenging. But so many hurrying journalists let the unexamined contradictions go by, not asking the anti-vaxxers what the common good may mean to them or why.

  2. Vaccines for children : https://caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/immunization/vaccination_and_your_child

    and …..https://www.bbc.com/news/health-57730353 ” Now relatively rare, childhood mortality was high in England and Wales in the 1850s, with a quarter of children dying before the age of five.

    Overcrowded industrial cities and London were the hardest-hit, says Dr Alice Reid, who leads the Populations Past project at the University of Cambridge and created the map above.

    Children fell victim to highly infectious diseases such as measles, whooping cough, diphtheria and scarlet fever. ”
    Young parents need to understand the vast change in health for young people. Remember the fear of a child being diagnosed with polio ? We live in an age where many childhood diseases and deaths are preventable. A quick jab leads to a long life.

  3. I can’t refute the claim that the vaccines are safer than being unvaccinated in children. The rate of serious covid-19 symptoms in children are incredibly low, and the vaccines are quite safe too. So even if I had a kid I would not lose much sleep over vaccination or natural infection. Even so, there must be a reason why the approved Pfizer dose for 5-11 year olds is 10 micrograms, not 30.

    The problem with expert opinion is that it is very hard for experts to bite the hand that feeds them. See the sexual abuse problems in the Canadian Forces, or Wayne Hankey’s long tenure at King’s despite persistent rumors that turned out to be true. If you’re an “expert”, that often means that you are 30-55 with a mountain of mortgage debt, kids to worry about and no way of making a living wage except in the one field you’re specialized in. It doesn’t require a conspiracy for organizations to collectively misbehave when ostracization from that field will result in impoverishment for those who don’t toe the line.