Ontario doctors are advising people to keep up with vaccinations ahead of the fall when illnesses such as COVID-19 and the flu are expected to spread amid health system challenges, according to a doctor, who will likely get worse.
Doctors spoke at a virtual panel hosted by the Ontario Medical Association on the pandemic and other health issues in the coming months.
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Zain Chagla of St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton said other countries have seen flu spikes this year and Ontario should prepare for something similar, as well as a a likely increase in COVID-19 cases in the fall as people begin to congregate indoors more often.
“I think with our…globalization, global travel, whatever is on the table really means more of the flu will be introduced into Ontario, highlighting the need for people to get their flu shot,” a- he declared.
Flu shots can help avoid serious symptomatic illnesses and health care strains as the system faces staffing shortages and other challenges, Chagla noted.
After a summer of long wait times and temporary closures in emergency departments due to staffing shortages, emergency physician Dr Andrew Petrosoniak said he expects hospital pressure to worsen in the future. fall.
“I think there’s about a 99 per cent chance that emergency services in Ontario will be worse in the fall than they are now,” he said. Petrosoniak said the expected increase in the spread of respiratory disease could have a big impact on an already strained hospital system.
“We tend to see an increase in volumes [in the fall]”, he said. “Even if it’s a small increase, when you’ve maxed out a system, any small increase is likely to really overwhelm it.
Petrosoniak said hospital staff are able to provide care to people in life-threatening conditions and will continue to do so. But the doctor at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto says he fears people with less obviously serious health conditions could fall through the cracks and see their condition worsen as a result.
“I’m sure things will be missing. I think it’s almost a certainty,” Petrosoniak said.
On the subject of vaccinations, pediatrician Dr Sloane Freeman, who also works at St. Michael’s Hospital, added that she is concerned about the delay of children in their COVID-19 vaccinations and other routine injections that have been missed during the pandemic. Children in Ontario have been out of school for a particularly long time compared to other provinces and as a result have missed many routine vaccinations.
This is particularly concerning as countries around the world are detecting vaccine-preventable diseases like the virus that causes polio, she said.
Polio was discovered in New York’s sewage and a positive case was detected last month. Canada has announced plans to start testing sewage for the virus soon.
“We really need to focus on maintaining and getting those routine vaccinations for children, which we otherwise took for granted,” Freeman said, adding that doctors also want children to be vaccinated against the flu.
Regarding COVID-19 injections, Freeman said children are “not being covered at the rate we need and hope for,” noting that children in poverty are furthest behind on their vaccinations. against the virus.
“We really need to focus on increasing that for the kids, especially as we approach fall, we’re thinking about back to school, indoors,” she said. “As COVID rates rise, we really want our children to be protected.”