You probably aren’t going to read this entire blog post.

And that’s totally fine. But here’s a recent example of why you should always read beyond the headlines:

Last week, WHO Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan was quoted out of context. In Swaminathan’s original statement, the warning in regard to mixing COVID-19 vaccines was given to those who are already fully vaccinated and may be deciding for themselves if they need an extra “booster” dose (CBC News, 2021). The media’s representation of Dr. Swaminathan’s statement, however, failed to provide context as headlines along the lines of “WHO Warns Against Mixing and Matching COVID-19 Vaccines” flooded the internet. 

With one thing leading to another, false rumors about mixing and matching vaccines had essentially spread across the globe. What was initially given as a warning, had quickly escalated into a chaotic situation of broken telephone in which Canadians were beginning to doubt their own country’s vaccination strategy—which includes mixing and matching vaccines (CBC News, 2021). In a tweet following the press conference, Dr. Swaminathan clarified that mixing vaccines is completely safe and that public health agencies, not individuals, should make decisions on mixing and matching COVID vaccines, based on available data (Reuters, 2021). 

TLDR: “Context is extremely important.”

According to infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch, if there’s one thing to take away from this situation, it’s to always remember that “context is extremely important.” In his interview with CBC News, Bogoch states that WHO officials “were really referring to people who had already received, for example, a full course of a vaccine series and then were, you know, for lack of a better word, choosing their own adventure and trying to get additional doses of a vaccine” (CBC News, 2021).

References

CBC News. (2021, July 14). What the World Health Organization really said about mixing COVID-19 vaccines | CBC News. CBCnews. https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/covid-19-vaccine-mixing-and-matching-who-1.6101047.

Reuters. (2021, July 12). WHO warns individuals against mixing and matching COVID vaccines. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/who-warns-against-mixing-matching-covid-vaccines-2021-07-12/?taid=60ec9968fdc7d300011ff877&utm_campaign=trueAnthem%3A%2BTrending%2BContent&utm_medium=trueAnthem&utm_source=twitter.

About the Author

Bairavie Piravakaran (she/her) is a second-year undergraduate at the University of Toronto Scarborough. As a Psychological & Health Sciences student, she values the importance of sharing credible information and making health resources more accessible to the public. Her interests in population health, research, and design are also reflected in her non-academic pursuits—she currently with the Young Leaders of Public Health and Medicine (YLPHM) as a Social Media Manager for the Scarborough Chapter and is a Health Promotion & Analytics Member at Critical Health Innovations Lab (CHIL). At EMPOWER Health, Bairavie works closely with the Marketing Team in order to plan and execute strategies that help inform the public about current health-related topics.

The Long Haul: Post-COVID Conditions

The SARS-CoV-2 virus has directly impacted over 185 million people worldwide (including those who have deceased as a result of the virus). With just over 4 million of those 185 million+ cases being fatal (Ritchie et al., 2020), the remaining individuals are notoriously those who have supposedly recovered from their initial COVID symptoms. Recently however, a number of these “recovered individuals” have reported experiences of post-COVID conditions.

What are Post-COVID Conditions?

Post-COVID conditions, otherwise known as long COVID, post-acute COVID-19, or chronic COVID, involve a number of new and/or persisting symptoms that occur “four or more weeks after first being infected” with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (CDC, 2021). While post-COVID conditions have a tendency to affect those who experienced severe illness during their infectious period, these symptoms can affect anyone who has had COVID—regardless of whether or not they were asymptomatic during their infectious period (CDC, 2021). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has compiled a list of some the most commonly reported symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Symptoms that get worse after physical or mental activities
  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”)
  • Cough
  • Chest or stomach pain
  • Headache
  • Fast-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations)
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Pins-and-needles feeling
  • Diarrhea
  • Sleep problems
  • Fever
  • Dizziness on standing (lightheadedness)
  • Rash
  • Mood changes
  • Change in smell or taste
  • Changes in period cycles

Who is at risk?

It is common for many to assume that the older population and/or those with pre-existing health conditions are at a higher risk for experiencing post-COVID conditions. While this is most likely true, a recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Bergen in Norway reveals that long-term symptoms after having mild COVID-19 can also impact young people (Neustaeter, 2021). 

After analyzing the symptoms of 312 COVID patients six months post-COVID infection, the study found that 61% of these patients experienced post-COVID conditions (Neustaeter, 2021). Moreover, 52% of patients between the ages of 16 and 30 who suffered mild COVID-19 infection reported prolonged symptoms that included but were not limited to, loss of taste/smell, fatigue, shortness of breath, and impaired concentration (Neustaeter, 2021). The study mentions that these symptoms were “independently associated with severity of the initial illness, pre-existing conditions and increased convalescent antibodies” (Neustaeter, 2021). 

“The cognitive symptoms of impaired memory and concentration difficulties are particularly worrying for young people at school or university and [ultimately] highlights the importance of vaccination to prevent the long-term health implications of COVID-19.”

  • Bjorn Blomberg 

Multiorgan and Autoimmune Conditions

Those who experience severe COVID-19 illness during their infectious period may also experience multiorgan effects and/or autoimmune conditions post-infection. Multiorgan effects can involve damage to the body systems, including a combination of heart, lung, kidney, skin, and brain functions (CDC, 2021). Autoimmune conditions on the other hand occur when the immune system misinterprets and attacks healthy cells, ultimately causing inflammation and/or tissue damage (CDC, 2021). 

Associate professor and study author Bjorn Blomberg claims that more research is needed to further assess the long-term impacts of the disease on other organs (Neustaeter, 2021). Based on the Norway study findings, he adds that it is crucial to understand the need for vaccines and other infection control measures—not just for the older population, but for younger age groups as well.

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Post-COVID Conditions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/long-term-effects.html.

Neustaeter, B. (2021, June 23). Young adults with mild COVID-19 suffering from persistent symptoms six months after infection: study. CTV News. https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/young-adults-with-mild-covid-19-suffering-from-persistent-symptoms-six-months-after-infection-study-1.5482892.

Ritchie, H., Ortiz-Ospina, E., Beltekian, D., Mathieu, E., Hasell, J., Macdonald, B., Giattino, C., Appel, C., Rodés-Guirao, L., & Roser, M. (2020, March 5). Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19) – the data – Statistics and Research. Our World in Data. https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus-data.

About the Author

Bairavie Piravakaran (she/her) is a second-year undergraduate at the University of Toronto Scarborough. As a Psychological & Health Sciences student, she values the importance of sharing credible information and making health resources more accessible to the public. Her interests in population health, research, and design are also reflected in her non-academic pursuits—she currently with the Young Leaders of Public Health and Medicine (YLPHM) as a Social Media Manager for the Scarborough Chapter and is a Health Promotion & Analytics Member at Critical Health Innovations Lab (CHIL). At EMPOWER Health, Bairavie works closely with the Marketing Team in order to plan and execute strategies that help inform the public about current health-related topics.

If you’re reading this, book your HPV vaccine at myvaccines.ca!

It is reasonable to say that COVID-19 vaccines are of utmost priority given the current situation. With that being said, it is crucial to remember that there are serious healthcare issues that have and continue to exist alongside the pandemic. 

What is HPV?

The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (CDC, 2021). It can also be passed down from a mother to her offspring during childbirth. There are many types of HPV that lead to a variety of health issues including certain cancers. Getting an HPV vaccine however, can help protect against these outcomes (CDC, 2021).

What does HPV have to do with Cervical Cancer?

According to Dr. Raymond Mansoor, Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Sir Lester Bird Mount St John’s Medical Centre, HPV is the “direct cause of 99.7 percent of all cervical cancer cases and so there is definitely some argument or discussion that can be had as to the benefits of vaccination against cervical cancer” (Williams, 2021). 

Cervical cancer is also the second most common form of cancer in females, following breast cancer (Williams, 2021). Because all females are at risk for contracting HPV, it is imperative to receive the HPV vaccine to protect against cervical cancer.

Herd Immunity and Cervical Cancer

While “herd immunity” is a term that is often used to help describe how a community can combat COVID-19, Dr. Mansoor claims that it can and should be applied to the prevalence of cervical cancer (Williams, 2021). In Australia, current epidemiological research has demonstrated a 50 percent reduction in reported cervical cancers per year, which is an indication that the HPV vaccines are a highly effective preventative measure against cervical cancer (Williams, 2021). 

If you have yet to get your HPV vaccine, easily book an appointment using myvaccines.ca!

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, January 19). STD Facts – Human papillomavirus (HPV). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv.htm.

Williams, O. (2021, June 23). ‘Herd immunity via HPV vaccinations will reduce cervical cancer cases’ – Dr Mansoor. Antigua Observer Newspaper. https://antiguaobserver.com/herd-immunity-via-hpv-vaccinations-will-reduce-cervical-cancer-cases-dr-mansoor/.

About the Author

Bairavie Piravakaran (she/her) is a second-year undergraduate at the University of Toronto Scarborough. As a Psychological & Health Sciences student, she values the importance of sharing credible information and making health resources more accessible to the public. Her interests in population health, research, and design are also reflected in her non-academic pursuits—she currently with the Young Leaders of Public Health and Medicine (YLPHM) as a Social Media Manager for the Scarborough Chapter and is a Health Promotion & Analytics Member at Critical Health Innovations Lab (CHIL). At EMPOWER Health, Bairavie works closely with the Marketing Team in order to plan and execute strategies that help inform the public about current health-related topics.

The wealthy bird gets the worm: Getting a head start on second doses

With the Delta variant continuing to spread in various parts of Ontario, it is crucial that second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are accessible to those who are most vulnerable. According to recent data however, it appears that those living in wealthier postal codes are moving well with the rate of second doses—even more so than the poorer and more racialized communities that need it the most.

Ontario has identified and targeted the following regions to receive an increased amount of second doses: Toronto, Peel Region, Halton and York Region. 

The independent research organization ICES claims that as of June 7, 2021,

the wealthier postal codes among the targeted regions appear to have an
increased amount of second-dose recipients  (Woodward, 2021). The postal code that led the race at the time was M5P which includes parts of Forest Hill where 17.55 percent of the residents had received their second dose (Woodward, 2021).The area around Jane and Finch, as well as Rexdale had significantly lower numbers, at 4.97 and 4.58 percent respectively (Woodward, 2021).

Dr. David Burt of the Black Scientists’ Task Force on Vaccine Equity states that “many [racialized and other vulnerable community members] are in the service industry, they can’t work from home, they have to take public transit, they have to work in the health-care sector”.

Distribution Solutions

The inequities with the rollout of second doses are no different than the first. In order to create a more balanced distribution, Toronto’s Sprint Strategy is working towards targeting areas of interest. On the other hand, pop-ups such as the ones held by Scarborough Health Network are focused on the population that lives and works in high-risk postal codes (Woodward, 2021).

References

Woodward, J. (2021, June 15). Ontario’s wealthiest zones get head start on second doses, data shows. Toronto. https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/ontario-s-wealthiest-zones-get-head-start-on-second-doses-data-shows-1.5470688.

Author, Bairavie Piravakaran (she/her)

Bairavie Piravakaran is a second-year undergraduate at the University of Toronto Scarborough. As a Psychological & Health Sciences student, she values the importance of sharing credible information and making health resources more accessible to the public. Her interests in population health, research, and design are also reflected in her non-academic pursuits—she currently volunteers with the Young Leaders of Public Health and Medicine (YLPHM) as a Social Media Manager for the Scarborough Chapter and is a Health Promotion & Analytics Member at Critical Health Innovations Lab (CHIL). At EMPOWER Health, Bairavie works closely with the Marketing Team in order to plan and execute strategies that help inform the public about current health-related topics.

The Impact of Indigenous Mental Health on Healthcare Equity

Healthcare disparities among Indigenous communities are no foreign concept in Canada—these outcomes are deeply rooted in the determinants of health that must be addressed in order to build an equitable health system. 

“Equity” should not be confused with “equality.”  

It is worth noting that equity and equality are two entirely different concepts. While equity tends to rely on the ideology of fairness, equality promotes impartiality. According to Health Quality Ontario, “Health equity allows people to reach their full health potential and receive high-quality care that is fair and appropriate to them and their needs, no matter where they live, what they have or who they are… a high-quality health system recognizes and respects social, cultural and linguistic differences”. By definition, health care equity is a “sub-set of health equity” in which a health system is able to effectively provide equitable health care (Health Quality Ontario, 2019).

Indigenous Mental Health in Canada

The alarming rates of poverty, unemployment, child apprehension, poor education, and public services are all contributing factors to the declining mental health of Indigenous peoples. These communities are challenged with a “disproportionate burden of disparity” that comes with low income and substandard living conditions (Richmond et al., 2016). In a recent report from Statistics Canada, mental health disparities between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations in Canada have demonstrated to be directly linked to the intergenerational effects of residential schools, the forced relocation of communities and removal of children from families and communities, and mental health services gaps. The report also claims that the adverse mental health outcomes of the Indigenous have resulted from childhood adversity, trauma, discrimination, as well as social determinants of health such as unemployment, housing, poverty, and food security (Government of Canada, 2020).

Indigenous Mental Health and the Pandemic

According to Statistics Canada, 6 in 10 Indigenous participants report that their mental health has worsened since the onset of physical distancing (Arriagada et al., 2020). The COVID-19 pandemic has only amplified the mental health concerns of Indigenous communities as the inability to socialize in-person creates unfamiliar and stressful situations. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) also describes how factors such as geographical isolation, high levels of pre-existing health conditions and inadequate housing are associated with a higher risk of contracting or spreading the COVID-19 virus.

Understanding the Impact

A 2010 American research study indicates that patient race/ethnicity can influence physician interpretation of patients’ complaints and, ultimately, clinical decision making (Sorkin et al., 2010). Over time, these biases towards certain populations become rooted in healthcare systems and become significantly more difficult to eliminate. As such, it is crucial for healthcare institutions to prioritize Indigenous and other marginalized communities. In an era of healthcare transformation, moving towards a system that is equitable will help improve the quality of health services being provided and ultimately increase sustainability.

References

Arriagada, P., Hahmann, T., & O’Donnell, V. (2020, June 23). Indigenous people and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/45-28-0001/2020001/article/00035-eng.htm.

Government of Canada, S. C. (2020, April 17). First Nations people, Métis and Inuit and COVID-19: Health and social characteristics. The Daily . https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/200417/dq200417b-eng.htm

Health Quality Ontario. (2019). Health Quality Ontario’s Health Equity Plan. http://www.hqontario.ca/portals/0/documents/health-quality/health_equity_plan_report_en.pdf.

Richmond, C. A. M., & Cook, C. (2016, July 20). Creating conditions for Canadian aboriginal health equity: the promise of healthy public policy. Public Health Reviews. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s40985-016-0016-5.

Sorkin, D. H., Ngo-Metzger, Q., & De Alba, I. (2010, May). Racial/ethnic discrimination in health care: impact on perceived quality of care. Journal of general internal medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2855001/.

Bairavie Piravakaran (she/her) is a second-year undergraduate at the University of Toronto Scarborough. As a Psychological & Health Sciences student, she values the importance of sharing credible information and making health resources more accessible to the public. Her interests in population health, research, and design are also reflected in her non-academic pursuits—she currently volunteers with the Young Leaders of Public Health and Medicine (YLPHM) as a Social Media Manager for the Scarborough Chapter and is a Health Promotion & Analytics Member at Critical Health Innovations Lab (CHIL). At EMPOWER Health, Bairavie works closely with the Marketing Team in order to plan and execute strategies that help inform the public about current health-related topics.

Vaccination Hesitancy: Know Your Risks

Although vaccination hesitancy has been a great concern for decades, the COVID-19 vaccine rollout has increased speculation surrounding the likelihood of adverse and potentially fatal effects that vaccines may cause. In a recent Canadian study, vaccination hesitancy has been demonstrated to stem from individual safety, concerns with political and economic factors driving the vaccine rollout, having limited knowledge about vaccines in general, misleading and false information, as well as a lack of legal liability from vaccine companies. Moreover, there is a demonstrated level of mistrust due to health care institutions’ history of neglecting and ultimately marginalizing communities with fewer resources (Griffith et. al, 2021). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one of the worst threats to global health is vaccination hesitancy. 

Seconds Anyone?

With Canada putting a pause on AstraZeneca distributions to new recipients, there has been recent controversy on whether those who have already received their first dose are at any significant risk. Public health officials have assured that those who have taken the AstraZeneca vaccine did the right thing at the time and should not feel remorse for acting quickly to receive their first shot (Arthur, 2021).

The real discussion, however, is what the next steps are for those who have already received their first dose—whether to proceed with their second dose of AstraZeneca or to mix and match with a dose of an mRNA vaccine such as Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna. According to a recent Spanish trial of over 600 participants, those who had received the Pfizer vaccine after taking their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine demonstrated a significantly greater antibody response (Callaway, 2021). However, it is still unclear how these results will compare to the antibody response from combining two different mRNA vaccines. While researchers seem to agree that mixing vaccines could provide a better overall immune response, there is currently no concrete evidence on whether mixing vaccines in general is a better option than taking a second dose of the same vaccine.  

If you have already taken the AstraZeneca vaccine and/or have underlying conditions, it is in your best interest to consult with your primary physician to help determine what the best option is for you.

Weighing the Risks

A concept that many may find difficult to digest is that the risk of contracting severe COVID-19 is substantially greater than the risks associated with a COVID-19 vaccine. Long story short, it is highly recommended to get the vaccine if you are eligible and have the means to do so because, at this point in time, your chances of ending up in the ICU are much higher than experiencing severe side effects from a vaccine. With over 19 million Canadians already receiving their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel. That being said, vaccination hesitancy is still a growing concern and needs to be addressed through the implementation of public health interventions that work to educate, resolve concerns, and rebuild trust in our healthcare system. 

At the end of the day, all vaccines come with their own set of risks and side effects. While it is important to be well aware of these individual risks, it is crucial to understand that receiving a COVID-19 vaccine not only provides individual benefits but also alleviates stress on hospitals and benefits the population as a whole. If we want to #conquercovid we need to have as many people vaccinated as possible; the more people who are hesitant and choose to “wait”, the longer it will take to reduce the number of cases and return to normal. 

References

Arthur, B. (2021, May 12). Why pausing AstraZeneca was the right move – and why you probably were right to get it. thestar.com. https://www.thestar.com/opinion/star-columnists/2021/05/11/why-ontario-made-the-right-move-by-pausing-astrazeneca-vaccines-and-why-if-you-got-it-you-probably-did-the-right-thing.html

Callaway, E. (2021, May 19). Mix-and-match COVID vaccines trigger potent immune response. Nature News. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-01359-3.

Griffith, J., Marani, H., & Monkman, H. (2021). COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy in Canada: Content Analysis of Tweets Using the Theoretical Domains Framework. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 23(4). https://doi.org/10.2196/26874

Bibliography

Ferguson, R. (2021, May 11). Ontario pauses first doses of AstraZeneca over clot concerns. thestar.com. https://www.thestar.com/politics/provincial/2021/05/11/covid-19-vaccines-for-teens-coming-soon-but-adults-still-a-priority-ontario-says.html.

Bairavie Piravakaran (she/her) is a second-year undergraduate at the University of Toronto Scarborough. As a Psychological & Health Sciences student, she values the importance of sharing credible information and making health resources more accessible to the public. Her interests in population health, research, and design are also reflected in her non-academic pursuits—she currently volunteers with the Young Leaders of Public Health and Medicine (YLPHM) as a Social Media Manager for the Scarborough Chapter and is a Health Promotion & Analytics Member at Critical Health Innovations Lab (CHIL). At EMPOWER Health, Bairavie works closely with the Marketing Team in order to plan and execute strategies that help inform the public about current health-related topics.

The Barriers of Immunization

Although Canada’s vaccine distribution numbers seem promising, the inevitable barriers that come with wanting to immunize an entire country are yet to be completely addressed. Some of the most common challenges include lacking technological support and digital literacy, distribution inequities, language barriers, and an overall fear of vaccines that is instilled through misinformation and false news.

COVID-19 is complicated. Booking a vaccine appointment shouldn’t be.  

It is common knowledge that technology has its drawbacks; however, it can be difficult to process how tedious such a “simple” task can become. From long waiting times to constantly refreshing booking sites in hopes of an empty time slot becoming available—not to mention the frustration of having your appointment cancelled and having to go through the process all over again. With ‘tech savvy’ individuals struggling to book appointments on their own, those who are unfamiliar with virtual bookings are left in the dark. 

While pop-up and walk-in sites attempt to resolve this issue, the hesitancy and/or struggle to receive the COVID-19 vaccine continues to persist. 

Fighting the Inequities of Vaccine Distribution

The World Health Organization (WHO) describes the global COVID-19 vaccine rollout as a “scandalous inequity”. According to WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the “small group of countries [including Canada] that make and buy the majority of the world’s vaccines control the fate of the rest of the world” (Nebehay, 2021). In the same interview, Dr. Tedros emphasizes that nobody should assume they are safe as long as the virus continues to exist elsewhere. 

The inequities of vaccine distribution are also prevalent at the provincial level. In Ontario, many of the ‘hot spot’ locations that were initially prioritized demonstrated a “lower-than-average pandemic burden” (Crawley, 2021). In early April, the CBC identified seven other postal codes that experienced a greater impact yet were not categorized as ‘hotspot’ locations. Each of these locations were located in the ridings of oppositional parties (Crawley, 2021). 

Overcoming the Language Barrier

Language barriers have always been a challenge for marginalized communities; living in a COVID-19 hotspot however only amplifies these challenges (Lampa, 2021). With over half of Canada’s Rohingya population residing in the Kitchener-Waterloo region, community leaders have claimed that the past year has been extremely difficult due to the Rohingya-English language barrier (Lampa, 2021). It is nearly impossible for many of the Rohingya to access vaccine resources as they are dependent on translators to help them understand COVID-19 protocols. In spite of the regions’ efforts to help the community by developing a video in the Rohingya language, it is not enough to overcome the divide between the non-english speaking Rohingya and the residents of Waterloo.

An ideal strategy in such scenarios would be to match patients with healthcare providers who either speak the same language or share a similar ethnic background. According to Anderson (2014), providing patients with a sense of familiarity in this context may help alleviate the concerns and questions they may want answered prior to receiving their vaccine.

Addressing Vaccine Conspiracies: Educating Gen Z

In an attempt to target Gen Z, medical worker Steven Ho utilizes his biting humor to address the common myths of the COVID-19 vaccine through TikTok (Pikett, 2021). Through this medium, Ho educates the younger generation in hopes of allowing them to teach their elderly caregivers who may not understand the notion of vaccines in general. In a particular video, Ho compares the COVID-19 vaccine to a birth control pill or a seatbelt—while all three of these entities provide a high degree of protection, Ho explains that there is a fine line between having a high degree of protection and 100% protection. Ho also sheds light on the theory that the COVID-19 vaccines contain tracking microchips and satirically claims that there is no need for a microchip vaccine as our cellular devices have already fulfilled the job.

When all is said and done

Immunization barriers will not go away on their own, and will continue to persist beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, it is crucial that as Canadians we are aware of these barriers to help better understand the needs of marginalized communities as well as the privilege we have of being able to receive a vaccine at all.

References

Anderson, E. L. (2014). Recommended solutions to the barriers to immunization in children and adults. Missouri medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6179470/.

Crawley, M. (2021, April 13). Some areas not hard-hit by COVID-19 getting vaccination priority in Ontario, data reveals | CBC News. CBCnews. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-covid-19-vaccination-postal-code-hot-spots-1.5983155.

Lampa, N. (2021, April 15). ‘We feel like we are on an island’: Cultural, language barriers difficult for Rohingyan population living in COVID-19 hot spots. Kitchener. https://kitchener.ctvnews.ca/we-feel-like-we-are-on-an-island-cultural-language-barriers-difficult-for-rohingyan-population-living-in-covid-19-hot-spots-1.5389196.

Nebehay, S. (2021, May 24). ‘Scandalous inequity’: WHO says 75% of vaccines given out in just 10 countries. Global News. https://globalnews.ca/news/7888608/who-covid-vaccine-sharing-inequity/.

Pickett, J. (2021, February 1). Tiktok docs you should be following. stethoscopemagazine.org. http://stethoscopemagazine.org/2021/02/01/tiktok-docs-you-should-be-following/.

Bairavie Piravakaran (she/her) is a second-year undergraduate at the University of Toronto Scarborough. As a Psychological & Health Sciences student, she values the importance of sharing credible information and making health resources more accessible to the public. Her interests in population health, research, and design are also reflected in her non-academic pursuits—she currently with the Young Leaders of Public Health and Medicine (YLPHM) as a Social Media Manager for the Scarborough Chapter and is a Health Promotion & Analytics Member at Critical Health Innovations Lab (CHIL). At EMPOWER Health, Bairavie works closely with the Marketing Team in order to plan and execute strategies that help inform the public about current health-related topics.

Need a doctor on a Holiday? We got you covered!

Canada Day is just around the corner, which means your go-to clinic might just be closed. Even though everyone across Canada will be busy celebrating, you never know if you’ll need to see your doctor or pick up a prescription from your local pharmacy.

Well, you’re in luck! iamsick.ca’s easy-to-use website or app can quickly help you find the healthcare information you need! This Canada Day, you will be able to effortlessly find the holiday hours for about 90% of various healthcare professionals as soon as you need them!

Sound interesting? Read on to learn about how our healthcare platform works.

Canada-Wide Coverage

When something unexpected happens and you need to see your physician as soon as possible, it’s not always easy to find their holiday hours. With a click of a button, you can use our accurate and complete holiday hour coverage to find what you need, including holiday hours for a wide-range of healthcare services.

Seamless and Integrated Platform

Along with providing holiday hour info, iamsick.ca offers an incredibly useful platform that connects patients to a wide variety of healthcare providers including clinics, pharmacies, community health centre, diagnostic labs, etc. With a simple search option, you can find a physician who speaks your language, who works after hours, who is available on weekends or generally fits your needs.

Online Booking

Once you’ve found the physician or healthcare provider that you need, you can use our flexible online booking system to effortlessly schedule an appointment. You don’t need to wait on hold on the phone to book an appointment anymore. You can also take advantage of the Waiting Room Concierge which will place you in a queue and notify you when it’s almost your turn for your schedule appointment. You can avoid those long and often irritating amounts of time that you would normally have to spend in the waiting room.

We’re continuously expanding our physician holiday hour coverage across Canada, and offer a wide range of convenient filter options so you can find the exact healthcare service you’re looking for! Check out our services here to learn more!

Healthcare Services: Finding them Quickly and Easily

Whether you’re in need of a doctor or pharmacy, it can be difficult to find a place or a professional that will suit your healthcare needs. Luckily, there are easier ways to find the care you need when you need it.

Your Family Doctor

The first place most people turn to when they need specific care is their family doctor. If your doctor is busy or you don’t have an urgent issue, it can often take weeks or even months to get an appointment. According to a recent report from the Canadian Institutes of Health Information (CIHI), only 43% of Canadians are able to get in to see their doctor the same day or the next day. On top of that, you may have to wait many months to see a specialist after you get a referral.

healthcare-services-finding-them-quickly-and-easily (2)

Health Care Connect

Instead of having to wait for a long time to get to see the doctor, you could try Health Care Connect, a service that connects you with a nurse who will help you find a practitioner or doctor accepting new patients. Unfortunately, you can’t book online so you may have to call a number of locations before finding what you’re looking for.

Here’s where iamsick.ca comes in.

Iamsick.ca

Iamsick.ca is a digital healthcare platform that empowers patients to find healthcare services when and where they need them. The intuitive search function allows you to search for a wide variety of healthcare providers, doctor availability, whether they accept new patients, and walk-in hours just or name a few. What makes the iamsick.ca platform so unique is that when a patient wants to get in to see their doctor, they can look up their clinic location online and easily book their appointment straight from the website or app in a matter of minutes – it’s that simple.

If you want to walk-in to a clinic, you’ll also have access to a virtual waiting room so you’ll know exactly how long you have to wait before you need to head to your appointment. Best of all, our app allows you to conveniently search for healthcare services anywhere, at any time.

So the next time you need to find healthcare services, try iamsick.ca – it’s the easiest way to find the care you need when you need it.

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5 Fun Activities to do during the Family Day Weekend

It’s that time in February again, when families come together to enjoy the long weekend away from work and school. It’s Family Day weekend! During this weekend, families should find different activities to spend quality time with one another, while being diligent with their health as flu season remains strong. Multiple studies have seen the correlation between quality family time and the mental health of children. So for this year’s Family Day, experience some fun & exciting activities with your family!

To help make your Family Day weekend as meaningful as it can be, while being diligent with your health, we’ve created a list of 5 fun activities to do. Here they are below!

1. Spend the weekend at a ski resort

What’s a better way to embrace the cold weather? Go skiing or snowboarding and enjoy the great outdoors! Since the weather remains cold, spend the weekend at a ski resort, such as Blue Mountain, to enjoy a weekend of hitting the slopes and seeing the natural beauty of Canada, while spending some quality time with the family. This small getaway is a great way for post-secondary students to start their Spring Break with their families.

While relishing in the fun and exciting activities at a ski resort, be sure to download the iamsick.ca app, which is available on Android, iOS, and Blackberry, before you and your family hit the slopes. For the Family Day long weekend, the iamsick.ca app will include holiday hours to keep you informed during the holidays. This app allows users to find the nearest pharmacy, family doctor, walk-in clinic, hospital, and other medical serviiamsick-Sept24-pinktext-240x240ces at your own convenience. Sometimes our health gets the better of us at the most inconvenient of times. By downloading this app, you can enjoy your weekend at the ski resort while having the ease of knowing you can rely on this app to find the nearest healthcare option with just a few taps away.

Worried about the cost of a skiing? Don’t fret, because we have some cost saving ideas to spend a great time outdoors with your
family. Try cross-country skiing, hiking or tobogganing at your local park. These activities are cost efficient and allows your family to have a fantastic time enjoying the outdoors.

2. Play some board games with your family

Family games night? Recently, more and more people have turned to board games as a way to bond with friends and families, while unwinding from the pressing presence of technology within our lives. Many have found that it’s a great way to bring families together to enjoy the light competition and the company of others. Some students have found that playing board games is a great way to relieve stress and escapeshutterstoc_familygames_346x210, which is great for students who need small breaks to reduce stress during midterm and exam seasons. So spend some quality time with your family this Family Day weekend by playing board games with each other, while being away from the temptations of the internet and social media.

3. Visit your local art gallery or museum

During the family day weekend, many cities across Canada have organized activities for the public to enjoy with their family. So take your children to visit the different kinds of activities available, such as the local science centre and museum, or go skating at your local rink. There are many different events and activities available that would spark the multiple interests of children, as there are a number of events happening outdoors and indoors. By participating in the different activities at your local city, you get to see what events your children enjoyed while getting to spend time with them. Check out a list of some family events across Canadian cities this weekend at this website;

http://www.todocanada.ca/family-day-weekend/

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4. Try new hobbies and sports

Try new hobbies and sports with your family is a great way to spend some quality time, while having fun with one another. Go skiing or snowboarding, if you have never gone before, family_skatingor go skating. Trying new activities with your children creates a joyful environment that encourages them to take risks and try new opportunities, which is essential to build their confidence and learn new skills that may be important in the future.

5. Get the flu shot and then go see a movie with your family

With this year’s flu season near the end of its height, families should still be aware and take preventive methods to combat this flu virus during the family day weekend. So make taking the flu shot a family activity and then go see a movie together afterwards! Spending the day together allows for some quality time, while being proactive in combating the flu! Don’t forget that the iamsick app shows nearby clinics or doctors that offer flu shots. Also, use the app to book appointments at your own convenience at the nearest clinic or doctor of your choice, while holiday hours are updated regularly on the app.

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Happy Family Day! I hope that this list of fun activities helps you and your family have a fantastic long weekend, while being proactive about your health!

All the Best,

The iamsick.ca team

Links;

http://www.theintelligencer.net/life/features/2017/02/face-to-face-time/

https://childdevelopmentinfo.com/psychology/importance-of-family-time-on-kids-mental-health-and-adjustment-to-life/

http://www.familyfacts.org/briefs/15/a-wise-investment-benefits-from-families-spending-time-together

http://globalnews.ca/news/3050876/what-canadians-should-expect-from-the-2016-17-flu-season/

http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/everydayinspiration/2014/03/the-benefits-of-trying-new-things.html