Swine Flu Information

KO Telemedicine (KOTM) provides a variety of essential services to a large number of remote First Nations communities throughout Northwestern Ontario. In the event of an epidemic / pandemic, KOTM's ability to carry out these vital services could be seriously affected. This emergency preparedness plan has been developed to assist the organization in maintaining its essential services despite significant staff absence due to illness.

Goals:

The goal of this plan is to minimize the impact an epidemic / pandemic outbreak can and will have on essential services offered by KOTM from both its Balmertown Head Office location, as well as each community satellite location. This plan will:

  • Apply when any highly infectious illness causes extensive staff illness.
  • Provide staff with the appropriate protocols to follow in response to an epidemic / pandemic situation.
  • Outline how essential services will be maintained during a period of severe employee absenteeism.
  • Prepare KOTM to be able to offer pandemic/epidemic related clinical and educational support services to our member communities.

Definitions:

Epidemic: An illness that affects a large population in one geographic area, with rapid spread and is not seasonal.
Pandemic: An epidemic that has become global.
Contagion: A disease that is or may be transmitted by direct or indirect contact.

Download the attached document for the rest of the plan.

The Assembly of First Nations issues regular updates on the National Chief's activities and work underway at the national office. More information can be found on the AFN's website at www.afn.ca.


The Assembly of First Nations is embarking on a strategic and forward looking agenda. I believe this is our time, a time for Indigenous peoples to come together in recognition and respect to lead the change that is required for our people. I am pleased to provide the following update on recent activities.

Subject: Virtual Summit on H1N1 For First Nations Communities to be held November 10th 2009

When I took office it was clear that there were different levels of information and understanding between jurisdictions about the H1N1 pandemic and community preparedness. This was not helpful for First Nations leaders, our communities or our families. It made the hard work of emergency planning even more difficult.

To address this breakdown in communications with federal agencies the AFN signed a Communications Protocol with Health Canada and Indian Affairs and Northern Development on September 19th. The Protocol included a Virtual Summit on H1N1.

The Virtual Summit will help ensure that we're working from shared knowledge about H1N1, and have the latest information on preparedness in First Nations communities.

This webcast, to be held November 10th 2009, will begin at 12:00 PM EST and run for approximately 2
hours:

  • Preparations and activities underway to deal with the second wave of H1N1 in First Nations communities;
  • Recent developments in H1N1;
  • Distribution of vaccines and antiviral drugs for First Nations communities;
  • Profiles on First Nations communities in their planning and preparedness efforts;
  • Interactive youth and expert panel for live Question and Answer sessions.

The Virtual summit will be held at (English) www.fnH1N1summit.ca (French) www.sommetH1N1pn.ca We have already posted updated information on many of the above topics for you to read, download and share with your communities. Although both the English and French websites are live, they are not completed. We will continue to update the websites as more information becomes available.

Test your computer before the Summit

To make sure you can access the Virtual Summit, you may wish to test your computer in advance. To do so, visit the site and watch the "test video." If the test video will not play, you will find instructions on downloading free software to fix the problem. If you are trying to view the video from a work computer you may need permission from your computer administrator to download this software. If you need help or have questions about preparing your computer please call or email our website developer Roy Whiteduck 1-866-869-6789 ext 275 rwhiteduck@afn.ca.

If you have general questions about the Virtual Summit call or email:
Jonathan Thompson, Senior Director Health and Social Secretariat 1-866-869-6789 ext 235
jonthompson@afn.ca or Karyn Pugliese Acting Communications Director 1-866-869-6789 ext 210 kpugliese@afn.ca

I hope you will find the Virtual Summit helpful and informative.
Meegwetch!

Highlights

This document aims to provide guidance to First Nations communities on public health measures that can be used to control the spread of the H1N1 flu. It provides:

  • Steps that can be taken to stop the spread of flu within households and the community
  • Advice on postponing or continuing with large gatherings

(an evergreen document)

Wunnumin Lake First Nation Logo

Wunnumin Lake First Nation

P.O.Box 125
Wunnumin Lake, Ontario
P0V 2Z0

Prepared by:

Sharon Mckay

Working Group members:

Sharon Mckay, Band Councillor,
Tommy Sainnawap, Health Director
Andrea Drodge, Community Health Nurse
Sarah Jane Cromarty, Community Health Representative (CHR)
Chris Cromarty, Elder

To: Ontario First Nations Communities
From: First Nations Inuit Health - Ontario Region
Subject: Health Canada Approves Pandemic H1N1 Flu Vaccine - Province Will Provide Vaccine to All Ontarians
Date: 22/10/2009

Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq announced today that Health Canada has approved AREPANRIX, a vaccine against the pandemic H1N1 flu virus. This means that the adjuvanted vaccine has been judged safe and effective for use in Canada by both the Canadian manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, as well as by the Health Canada regulator.

The Ontario Ministry so Health and Long-Term Care made an announcement today that beginning the week of Oct.26, adjuvanted H1N1 flu vaccine will be offered to all Ontarian that need and want it, starting with:

  • People 65 and under with chronic conditions;
  • Pregnant women;
  • Health children 6 months to under five years of age;
  • People living in remote or isolated communities;
  • Health care workers, and
  • Household contacts and care providers of persons at high risk who cannot be immunized or may not respond to vaccines.

Unadjuvanted vaccine will not be available until early November. All pregnant women with pre-existing health conditions and healthy pregnant women in the second half of their pregnancy (more than 20 weeks) should speak to their health care provider about receiving the adjuvanted vaccine. Health pregnant women in the first half of their pregnancy are at less risk of complication from the flu, and should wait to receive the unadjuvanted vaccine, when it is available.

People age 10 and over will require one dose of the H1N1 vaccine for full immunity and children under 10 years old will require two-half doses, a minimum of 21 days apart.

Quick Facts

  • Ad adjuvant is a substance that is added to a vaccine in order to boost the individual's response. It also means that less of the virus or "antigen" is needed to make a dose of the vaccine. Unadjuvanted vaccine has to "immune boosting" element, and more antigen is needed to create this kind of vaccine.
  • Adjuvants are made entirely from naturally-occurring ingredients such as oil, water and Vitamin E. Adjuvants can be found in many common vaccines. The adjuvant in the H1N1 vaccine as been tested with over 39,00 people around the world.

TO: ONTARIO FIRST NATIONS COMMUNITIES
FROM
: FIRST NATIONS INUIT HEALTH, ONTARIO REGION
SUBJECT: ONTARIO'S FLU VACCINE STRATEGY

DATE
: SEPTEMBER 25, 2009

The H1N1 flu virus has rapidly spread across the world. The symptoms of H1N1 flu virus are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu and can include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. The spread of the H1N1 flu virus is also thought to be happening in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Individuals should continue to take normal precautions to protect themselves as they would from a regular flu, such as washing their hands frequently, cover coughs and sneezes, avoiding close contact with people who are sick and stay home when ill.

Since the H1N1 flu virus came about in April 2009, the way in which it has spread shows that it is affecting more young and healthy people than the regular seasonal flu, which normally affects seniors and young children. People with underlying medical conditions and pregnant women may be at a greater risk for severe illness from H1N1.

On September 24, 2009, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) announced changes to the seasonal flu immunization campaign this fall. The approach includes phasing in two flu vaccine programs in the fall, by targeting those most at risk from complications from either of the strains of flu.

  • In October, the seasonal flu vaccine will be offered to Ontarians 65 years and over and residents of long-term care homes.
  • H1N1 vaccine will be offered to the general population in November. There are enough vaccines for everyone living in Ontario including all First Nations.
  • The universal seasonal influenza immunization program will be offered to all other residents six months of age and older in December/January.

The decision to take this approach is based on scientific analysis by the province's top immunization experts. Some of the considerations that were used to come to this decision are:

  • Evidence shows the H1N1 flu virus will be the main strain in circulation this fall in Ontario.
  • Seniors are most at risk for complications from seasonal flu while younger people are more at risk for complications from H1N1 flu. Also, the H1N1 virus does not typically occur in persons over age 60, probably as a result of residual immunity from exposure to H1N1 prior to 1957.
  • Some studies in Canada show a potential link between prior seasonal flu vaccination and risk of getting an infection with the H1N1 virus.
  • There is no scientific data that supports the safety and effectiveness of administering the seasonal flu vaccine and the H1N1 vaccine at the same time.

In your community, Community Health Nurses will be reaching out to individuals 65 years and older during the first phase of the seasonal flu vaccination campaign in October. We will provide you more information on the H1N1 vaccination campaign as soon as it becomes available. We have attached for more information the backgrounder released by the province on Ontario's Flu Vaccine Strategy.

For more information regarding the H1N1 flu virus, how to care for family members and how to avoid contracting the virus, please visit the following web-site or call our toll free line.

Ontario will immunize people 65 years of age and older and residents of long-term care homes, with seasonal flu vaccine first. Ontario will offer the rest of the province's population the H1N1 vaccine beginning in November followed by a universal influenza immunization program with the seasonal flu vaccine in the months following. Ontario's decision to take this approach is based on scientific analysis by the province's top immunization experts suggesting that this vaccination sequence strategy will provide the greatest benefit to the population's health.

Download the attached document for the full strategy.

Source: MOHLTC Guidance for the Prevention and Management of Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 Influenza Virus in Colleges & Universities, September 2009

Ill Students in Residences

Depending on the size of the residence and logistical feasibility, the institution should try to separate students with ILI in specific rooms or areas (e.g., rooms at one end of the hall, designated wing or floor).

Consider the following when caring for ill students with ILI in residence:

  • Place students with ILI in a single room; if that isn't possible, consider cohorting students with ILI in the same dorm room
  • In shared rooms, arrange beds so that students lie head to toe and consider creating temporary physical barriers between beds, using sheets, curtains, or other barriers
  • Provide easy access to washrooms if possible, particularly when accommodating a group of ill students
  • If communal washrooms are used, ensure that the facilities are cleaned frequently and, if possible, consider identifying an area with separate toilets and sinks for ill students
  • Clean common areas more frequently
  • Ensure ill students have access to food, water, and medications
  • Encourage students that experience ILI symptoms and have risk factors for complications from the flu (e.g., chronic health problem that requires regular medical attention) to call their doctor, health care centre, or Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000.
  • Send ill students to their health care provider and/or hospital if they are experiencing severe signs and symptoms or their condition is worsening
  • Reinforce hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette in these facilities.
  • Encourage students to develop a personal preparedness strategy in the event that they get sick with influenza, which may include identifying who they will inform if they get sick, designating a potential "flu buddy" to check on them and assist when they are ill, and thinking about necessary supplies such as tissues, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and other items.
  • Students whose homes are not too far from the college or university should make contingency arrangements for a return to home until recovery is complete. NOTE transportation home in a private vehicle is strongly recommended while ill rather than using public or air transportation.

Ill Students Living off Campus

It is recommended that schools consider actions they should take to meet the needs of ill students living off campus - particularly if they live alone and do not have family or support systems in the community. Schools may wish to encourage students living off campus to establish a buddy system to make sure that a roommate, friend, or family member knows they are ill.
At a minimum, schools should have a means of communicating with ill students off campus.

Considerations Prior to Travel

Schools should communicate with individuals who are traveling from other parts of province in advance of their travel and advise them not to travel while ill.

On April 23, 2009, I was selected by a committee of the Ontario legislature to become this province's Chief Medical Officer of Health, a position I took up on June 15. Prior to my appointment, I was serving as the Director General of the Centre for Immunization and Respiratory Infectious Diseases at the Public Health Agency of Canada, and my attention had begun to focus on a health issue that was to dominate the world's headlines for the next several months.

In mid-March, Mexican authorities started reporting cases of what appeared to be a new strain of influenza. By mid-April, alarm bells were ringing in public health agencies around the world. The first case of a novel influenza A (H1N1) outside Mexico was confirmed in the United States on April 15, with another one reported two days later. On April 26, the first cases were reported in Canada. On April 28, Ontario reported its first four cases. By then, there were more than 100 cases of the new disease in seven countries around the world, and seven people had died.

The H1N1 flu has been by far the biggest health story of the past few years, and one of the biggest news stories of any kind. People have become ill. People have died. Like every other public health official in the world, I have lived and breathed the H1N1 flu for the past five months. In public health, when you are dealing with an infectious disease, and particularly a pandemic, communication is absolutely critical. There is a fine line that must be drawn between raising awareness and causing fear and, with the H1N1 flu, awareness is important and fear is unnecessary. That is why I decided the time was right to release this interim report.

We are heading into another flu season, and H1N1 flu will be a part of that season. This report tells, in brief, the story of the H1N1 flu to date here in Ontario and around the world. It seeks to inform Ontarians about the disease. And while nobody knows for certain the extent to which this flu virus will re-emerge over the next few months, this report is intended to reassure the people of Ontario that we are ready. The coming flu season will be a different flu season - that much is certain. But there are precautions that each of us can take that will make a big difference. A vaccine has been developed and it will be available to everyone who needs and wants it.

We are ready.

Dr. Arlene King
Chief Medical Officer of Health
Province of Ontario

Download the attached document for the rest of Dr. King's full report.

The attached document was used in a joint presentation by Dr. Arlene King and Dr. Valerie Gideon at the Ontario Chief's Assembly on July 9, 2009.

Dr. Arlene King

Chief Medical Officer of Health
Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care
Province of Ontario

Dr. Valerie Gideon

Regional Director - Ontario
First Nations & Inuit Health
Health Canada