Abbotsford mother confused by contact tracker ‘mixed messages’

“There is a large part of our world right now that seems inconsistent, and if you get mixed messages from health authorities, it can be very overwhelming.” – Marie Haak

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After two of her four children tested positive for COVID-19, Marie Haak divided her living room with painter’s tape and worried about whether she should go back to work.


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Because she is fully vaccinated, Abbotsford’s educational assistant was cleared to return her students via the first contact tracker she spoke to last week. But a second contact tracker, who called after another of her children tested positive, was more hesitant, recommending that she call 811, the provincial health counseling hotline, to discuss it further.

Haak said she struggled with the decision when she and her husband separated the dining room table to make two eating areas, put up signs reminding their children to mask themselves in the hallway, and used green tape to separate the living room into zones. .

“In the end, it was basically my own choice,” he said Tuesday. “There is a large part of our world right now that seems inconsistent, and if you get mixed messages from health authorities, it can be very overwhelming.”


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As COVID-19 cases among children ages 5 to 11 have risen with the start of school, more parents have been forced to navigate the challenges related to the pandemic, from having a sick child to isolating them after a exposition. But some say their experience with Fraser Health has left them confused.

Haak decided to use his sick days to isolate himself and manage isolation plans for his four children, all of whom are under the age of 11 and must follow slightly different guidelines due to the nature of their contact and health concerns.

During her calls with two contact trackers, she said they asked for different information. One asked about his daughter’s contacts 14 days before she tested positive, while one did not ask about that time period at all.


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Another Abbotsford mother, Crystal Mauthe, said she contacted Fraser Health herself upon learning that her two children had been exposed to the virus after a friend was at their home and later tested positive.

“Fraser Health contacted my friend after her positive test, but they did not ask about close contacts in the previous days,” she said. “I told my friend to call the contact tracker again and tell them that she had seen us so they could give us the proper information on how long we had to isolate ourselves.”

Mauthe eventually came to Fraser Health and was told that her children needed to isolate themselves, while she had to monitor her own health because she was fully vaccinated.

“I had to find that myself,” she said.

Crystal Mauthe and her daughter. [PNG Merlin Archive]
Crystal Mauthe and her daughter. [PNG Merlin Archive] PNG

Trina Enns said she also had to go further to determine if she should isolate herself after an exposure to COVID-19. She and her 12-year-old son were fully vaccinated when exposed through close contact earlier this month, but because Enns takes an immunosuppressive drug, she asked the contact tracker if she should isolate rather than monitor.


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“I know that he may not have had a strong immune response to the vaccine,” he said. “Should I act like I haven’t been vaccinated?”

Although the contact tracker told her that she could continue dating if she was vaccinated, Abbotsford’s mother decided to isolate herself.

In a statement, Fraser Health spokeswoman Vanessa Woznow said contact trackers have two main priorities: determining where someone may have contracted the virus and whether they may have transmitted it.

In general, he said, unvaccinated people who have had contact with the sick person and meet the “criteria for close contact” are told to isolate themselves. Fully vaccinated close contacts can usually self-manage if they do not have symptoms.

Woznow said those guidelines have been established by the BC Center for Disease Control.


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But not all people who have seen the sick person in the two days before they show symptoms can be contacted and told to isolate themselves.

Contact trackers “work to identify clusters of cases in the community and notify those at high risk of developing COVID-19 due to the nature of their contact with the case,” he said.

While they follow standardized scripts and use provincial criteria to determine periods of isolation, how far back to trace, and who identifies as a close contact, contact trackers face “many different scenarios and scenarios” and sometimes must adapt your recommendations.

In those situations, they consult with nursing team leadership and medical health officials for guidance, Woznow said.

TO status report released by the BC Center for Disease Control on Tuesday noted that while diagnosed cases of COVID-19 among school-age children too young to be vaccinated increased when school started, the number peaked in late September and now it has a downward trend.


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The increase occurred mainly in regions with lower community vaccination coverage. “Vaccination not only helps protect the individual, it can also help protect others in the community, including younger children who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated,” the report noted.

Between October 6 and 13, there were 877 new cases of COVID-19 among children ages five to 11 in British Columbia, compared to 204 children under the age of four and 267 children ages 12 to 17. 11 age groups have been hospitalized due to the virus, including one during the week of the report. There have been no deaths in that age group.

The report also noted that there were 1,388 potential exposure posts among 510 schools, or about a quarter of all schools in BC, between September 7 and October 9.

There are more than 500,000 children under the age of 12 in British Columbia who remain unable to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Earlier this week, Pfizer-BioNTech said it had asked Health Canada to approve the first COVID-19 vaccine for children ages five to 11.

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