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Doctor’s Notes: Don’t wait for disaster to strike before talking to your children




As a ‘disaster psychiatrist,’ people sometimes ask me how to talk to their children about terrible events – not surprising, given that Toronto experienced two devastating attacks in quick succession earlier this year.

The first thing I always tell parents is that we shouldn’t wait until disaster strikes. There are several things we can do to prepare our kids in advance, and if handled correctly, these preparations will help children to feel more confident that they can handle unforeseen events.

Ensuring routines are kept after a disaster is important for children.
Ensuring routines are kept after a disaster is important for children.  (Rene Johnston / Toronto Star)

As soon as they’re old enough, teach your children to memorize your home and cellphone numbers, and your address. Talk to them calmly about what to do in case of an emergency, or if they feel in danger. And we should teach them to say something to an adult if they see anything suspicious. Children can be very aware.

For children to feel safe, they need to trust authority figures and institutions. It matters how you handle other events in the news, so that you’re not eroding kids’ trust in the people who will help and direct them in a crisis. For example, if they hear about a police officer doing something wrong, we need to assure our children that the vast majority of people in positions of authority are trustworthy, and that government employees and agencies work hard to stop dangers before they happen. You can do this without minimizing the seriousness of any particular incident.

We should know where our children are at all times – who they’re with and when they’re expected home.

Cellphones sometimes don’t work in a disaster situation so people need a plan B meeting place. In the event of an emergency or disaster, they should go home, but if that’s not possible, teach them where the nearest police station is. If this is too far, what about the school, or a trusted and familiar shop or café?

In talking to children about disasters, we don’t want to alarm them unduly but we want them to know we’re capable and that we take responsibility for their welfare. It’s easy for children to become distressed and anxious; we don’t want to suggest they’re in danger or that the people who take care of them are in danger if that is not the case. So when we talk to children, we need to keep our comments simple, clear and worded sensitively.

It’s also important to find out what they’re hearing about a disaster or tragic event. These days with media surrounding them, our kids may have ideas or beliefs that would surprise us. We’ll never know unless we ask them what they’ve heard. If they have questions we should encourage them to ask. They often get information from other children, and we want to make sure there aren’t misunderstandings. Even if the disaster happened in Toronto and you live in Barrie, they may watch the newscast on a friend’s phone and wonder how safe their community is.

After news of a disaster, listening to your child is crucial: how are they taking the news? Ask open-ended questions, like ‘how do you feel?’ and listen closely to the answers. A younger child who’s not very verbal could explore their feelings through drawing. If a child is directly involved in a disaster, we don’t ask ‘how do you feel’, but rather offer words of empathy and support, such as, “I know this is scary, but help is coming, and I am staying with you.”

While you never want to downplay what happened, it’s valuable to tell children these are very unusual events. Their safety is secure and their caregivers are able to take care of them. You want them to keep to their routines – school and chores – as usual.

Older children might get riled up about the event, so we have to instill a sense of calmness and point out more mature ways of handling some of the feelings that arise. For example, if a teenager is upset over a friend being a victim of a violent crime we need to try to redirect these strong feelings. This is an opportunity for a common sense intervention – explain that it’s far better to let the authorities do their work rather than take personal revenge.

Tell your kids that when bad things happen, it’s OK to grieve but as a family and a society we’ll get through it. We want to normalize life after the event as much as possible, but at the same time we don’t want to act like nobody died or use language like “at least you survived.” These dismissive statements often reduce calmness, not enhance it. We don’t want to tell people how they should feel or make unrealistic promises. These will backfire and diminish hope.

Most people are resilient and they will recover from disasters. But we have to recognize it’s normal to have feelings of grief or sadness, which can result in all kinds of symptoms, like muscle tension, elevated heartbeat, blood pressure, or fatigue. In the immediate aftermath, you or your kids may feel numb, angry, anxious, sad, depressed or helpless. You may experience survivor guilt, unreality, disorientation, racing thoughts, slow thoughts, insomnia, memory issues or difficulty making decisions.

These things will pass, as long as they’re not continuing on and on and getting deeper. If these feelings become embedded or people start ruminating on them, I would suggest it’s important to get help.

Frank Sommers is an adjunct lecturer in U of T’s Department of Psychiatry and founding Chair, Section of Disaster Psychiatry, Canadian Psychiatric Association. Doctors’ Notes is a weekly column by members of U of T’s Faculty of Medicine.


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Post-vaccine surge? Michigan’s spring coronavirus case spike close to previous year’s autumn high




(Natural News) The spike in new Wuhan coronavirus infections recorded in Michigan over the spring is similar to a spike seen during the 2020 fall season. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the state’s daily coronavirus case count averaged more than 7,000 for almost two weeks – before taking a slight dip to 6,891 on April 20. This echoed similar figures back in November and December 2020, which saw sharp rises in infections for those two months before plunging.

Back in autumn of last year, Michigan averaged more than 7,000 cases per day for a span of 10 days. New infections dropped slightly, then briefly spiked as the December holidays approached. It then fell to the low 1,000s for the succeeding two months – until ascending again in March.

According to University of Michigan internal medicine professor Dr. Vikas Parekh, the sudden increase in new infections could be attributed to several factors. Among the factors he cited was re-openings, which increased people’s interactions and mobility. Parekh said the loosened restrictions contributed to the spread of the highly contagious U.K. B117 variant.

“As the B117 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other stats [with] their own surges – although I hope none are as bad as Michigan,” the professor remarked. He continued: “The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet.”

Parekh also expressed optimism over the lower daily caseloads the Great Lakes State reported. He said he believes both cases and hospitalizations have plateaued and will likely decline soon. The professor commented: “[COVID-19] positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline.”

Meanwhile, the state cited younger populations and youth sports, such as basketball, wrestling and hockey, to increase new COVID-19 infections. Because of this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called to suspend youth sports and indoor dining in the state. She also exhorted high schools to conduct remote class sessions for two weeks to curb the spread of the pathogen.

Michigan still experienced the spike in cases despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country

During the opening stages of the U.S.’s immunization drive against COVID-19, Michigan boasted of having one of the highest vaccination rates nationwide. A report by Bridge Michigan even noted the initial “frenzy for vaccines” that “far exceeded the state’s limited supply.” But things have appeared to turn around for Michigan, as it now struggles to reach the 70 percent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.

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Scottish mom’s legs turn into a pair of “giant blisters” after first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine




(Natural News) Sarah Beuckmann of Glasgow, Scotland, felt a tingling sensation in her legs and noticed a rash flaring up around her ankles a week after getting her first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on March 18.

She also had flu-like symptoms right after the vaccination.

Beuckmann called her doctor to arrange an appointment the morning she noticed the rash, but by the afternoon her skin was already breaking out into blood-filled blisters. Blisters also appeared on her legs, hands, face, arms and bottom.

“I ended up asking my husband to take me to A&E,” said Beuckmann, referring to “accident and emergency,” the equivalent of an emergency room (ER). “When I got there, my heart rate was sitting at 160bpm, which they were very concerned about. I got put on an ECG machine.”

Doctors determine AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers the rash

Medics carried out tests for HIV, herpes and other skin conditions to work out what triggered the rash, but all results came back negative. Doctors finally determined that the vaccine caused her rare reaction after carrying out two biopsies.

“Once they found that it was a reaction to the vaccine, they put me on steroids and that really seems to be helping my progress,” said Beuckmann. She had been advised by her doctor not to get the second dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine because of her reaction.

Beuckmann spent 16 days at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was discharged to recover at home. The 34-year-old mother of one is currently wheelchair-bound due to the bandages on her legs and blisters on the soles of her feet. She may need physiotherapy to help strengthen her leg muscles.

“They are starting to heal and they’re looking a lot better than they were but as the blisters started to get worse, they all sort of merged together,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

With the blisters merging, her legs have looked like a pair of “giant blisters.” Beuckmann admitted that at one point she feared her legs might have to be amputated.

Dermatologist agrees COVID-19 vaccine causes the blisters

Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman at the British Skin Foundation, agreed that Beuckmann had likely suffered a reaction to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system. Occasionally people will have quite dramatic activation of their immune systems which, as happened in this case, can manifest in their skin” Wedgeworth told MailOnline. “This poor lady had a very severe reaction, which thankfully is extremely rare.”

It is not clear why Beuckmann, who works in retail, was invited for a vaccine. Scotland’s vaccine rollout was focused on people over the age of 50 when she got vaccinated, although vaccines are available to those who are considered at risk from the virus, or live with someone considered vulnerable.

At least 20 million Briton have had AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which drug regulators say causes a rash in one percent of cases. They say rashes caused by the jab tend to go away within a week.

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Trojan labs? Chinese biotech company offers to build COVID testing labs in six states




In 2012, BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a DNA sequencing company and equipment maker. The funds for the $117.6 million purchase were raised from Chinese venture capitals. The company has expanded its footprint globally. According to its website, BGI conducts business in more than 100 countries and areas and has 11 offices and labs in the U.S.

People are concerned about China’s access to American DNA data

Some said that with Complete Genomics providing an American base, BGI would have access to more DNA samples from Americans, helping it compile a huge database of genetic information. Some also worried about the protection of the genetic information’s privacy.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), BGI “has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. healthcare providers and research organizations to provide large-scale genetic sequencing to support medical research efforts,”

There are three main reasons why many people in the biotech community and government have expressed concerns about China’s access to American DNA data.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Evanina discussed the very likely scenario in which Chinese companies would be able to micro-target American individuals and offer customized preventative solutions based on their DNA.

Evanina asked: “Do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our healthcare services? Are we okay with that as a nation?”

The second concern is that China may use DNA to track and attack American individuals. As the USCC report states: “China could target vulnerabilities in specific individuals brought to light by genomic data or health records. Individuals targeted in such attacks would likely be strategically identified persons, such as diplomats, politicians, high-ranking federal officials or military leadership.”

The third concern is that China may devise bioweapons to target non-Asians. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, discussed it in his article “What Will China Do With Your DNA?” published by The Epoch Times in March 2019.

He wrote: “We know that the Asian genome is genetically distinct from the Caucasian and African in many ways. … Would it be possible to bioengineer a very virulent version of, say, smallpox, that was easily transmitted, fatal to other races, but to which the Chinese enjoyed a natural immunity? … Given our present ability to manipulate genomes, if such a bio-weapon can be imagined, it can probably – given enough time and resources – be realized.”

An article from Technocracy said: “China’s aggressive collection of American DNA should be doubly alarming because it can only spell one ultimate outcome: biowarfare. That is, genetically engineering viruses or other diseases that will be selectively harmful to U.S. populations.”

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