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Mom furious at ‘reckless’ anti-vax parents after baby’s possible measles exposure in hospital




It’s Max Seccia-Smith’s first birthday today — but his parents aren’t celebrating yet.

Instead, they’re living in what his mother describes as an agonizing fear that Max — who was born a month early — may have been exposed to measles during a visit to BC Children’s Hospital on Feb. 1.

The baby boy was too young for his vaccination, but was scheduled to get it later this week. Now the family is stuck in isolation at their Burnaby townhouse, hoping he’s healthy.

“Through the fault of parents who have decided that vaccinating their children isn’t a good idea, my son is now in this pretty scary situation,” said Max’s mother, Stefania Seccia, 32. “So we’re pretty angry about it. He’s in isolation on his first birthday.”

Max’s parents are waiting for this Saturday — the day the maximum 21-day incubation period for measles ends. 

Seccia and her first-born, Max, had a tough eight weeks when he was born. Now she’s worried again after a potential exposure to the measles virus in an emergency room. (Submitted by Stefania Seccia)

The first-time mom got notified last Friday about the measles situation at BC Children’s Hospital when a Fraser Health official called her home. Officials announced anyone who visited the emergency room at the hospital on Jan. 21, Jan. 23, Jan. 24 and Feb. 1 may have been exposed to a person now known to be infected with measles. Not everybody who was exposed has been notified.

CBC reported Saturday that the man whose family is at the centre of the measles outbreak in Vancouver said he didn’t vaccinate his children because he distrusted the science at the time.

“My husband and I are just completely on edge, keeping our eye out for symptoms. So far he’s OK,” Seccia said about Max.

The family was told to keep the baby at home and avoid exposure to other people.

Seccia is particularly worried because Max was born prematurely and underwent surgery as a newborn. She said that makes him more vulnerable to complications from the virus.

The MMR vaccine is designed to prevent measles, mumps and rubella by helping the body make antibodies to fight off the viruses. But some people fear the vaccine and refuse to immunize their children. Health officials warn that can cause outbreaks.

Nine measles cases have been reported in B.C. of late, and an outbreak of 62 cases was reported in Washington state this year.

The BC Centre for Disease Control recommends children receive two doses of the vaccine: one at 12 months, and the second at five to six years of age.

There is no scientific evidence linking the vaccine to autism, says the CDC.

Seccia said the fact some people still believe this infuriates her, and parents who refuse to vaccinate their children are “reckless” and put her tiny son at high risk.

Max had a rough start as he was born a month early, and his parents went through eight weeks of stress when he struggled to eat and had to undergo surgery. All that puts the tiny boy more at risk from the measles virus, his mother says. (Stefania Seccia)

“If [Max] does contract the measles virus, he’s at the highest risk of having brain inflammation, of going deaf, having brain damage or dying,” she said.

 “This is a complete nightmare. We’ve done everything right.”

She said she had taken Max to BC Children’s Hospital on Feb. 1 to deal with a minor health issue — a cold sore on his face. He had also become dehydrated and ill with what Seccia said turned out to be a stomach virus.

Seccia had booked her son’s MMR shot days after his first birthday, but had to cancel after this scare.

“That’s the sick joke of it all,” she said. “We can’t have visitors. We can’t see families or friends. We are stuck here.”

Seccia and her husband were both immunized as children and received another measles immunization before a trip to Vietnam in 2015. Despite this, both parents are now being retested to see if they are contagious. Max’s dad may also have to miss work until his blood work comes back because his job is at a health-care facility.


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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa




With Ontario now in Step 3 of 2021 three-step plan for reopening, museums and other indoor attractions are allowed to reopen with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.

Here is a list of Ottawa attractions you can visit starting July 16th.

Do remember to wear masks and buy tickets in advance.

Parliament Hill

Parliament’s Centre Block and Peace Tower are closed for renovation.

You can join for tours of the Senate of Canada Building (2 Rideau Street), House of Commons at West Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill, and East Block at East Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill.

When: Grounds open; guided tours of Parliament are suspended through the summer of 2021.
Where: 111 Wellington Street, Downtown Ottawa

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Ottawa performer leapfrogs from gymnastics to Broadway to TV




A new AppleTV+ series set in a magical town that’s stuck in a neverending 1940s musical includes a pair of Ottawa siblings in the cast. 

Warren Yang and his sister, Ericka Hunter, play two of the singing, dancing residents of the village portrayed in Schmigadoon!, a small-screen series that takes its cues from classic musicals like Brigadoon, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music, and skewers them with the offbeat comedic mastery of Saturday Night Live. 

In fact, you’ll recognize many of the names from SNL, starting with executive producer Lorne Michaels, creator of the late-night, live-comedy sketch show. Schmigadoon! also stars SNL cast member Cecily Strong and comedian Keegan-Michael Key, who hosted SNL in May. They play a New York couple who get lost on a hike and stumble into a strange town where everyone sings and dances. 

For Yang, a relative newcomer to show-biz, the series marks his television debut. For Hunter, the younger of his two older sisters, it’s the latest in a career path that began with dance lessons as a child more than 30 years ago. She attended Canterbury High School, Ottawa’s arts-focused secondary school. 

“Her dream was always to perform,” said Yang, 34, in an interview. “But that was never the path I thought was an option for me.” 

While his sister studied dance, Yang did gymnastics. He was an elite gymnast throughout his youth, ultimately leaving Merivale High School at 16 to train in Montreal, finishing high school through correspondence courses. He was a member of the Canadian National Team and received a scholarship to study at Penn State, majoring in marketing. 

A few years after graduation, Yang was working at an advertising agency in Toronto when he got a call from a Manhattan number. To his astonishment, they asked if he would be interested in auditioning for a Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.

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COVID-19: uOttawa to require vaccination for students living in residence




Vaccination will be mandatory for students who want to live in residence at the University of Ottawa this year, with proof of vaccination and at least one dose required before move-in, or within two weeks of doing so if they can’t secure a shot before arriving.

Those who can’t receive a vaccine for “health-related reasons or other grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code” will be able to submit a request for accommodation through the university’s housing portal, according to information on the university’s website.

Students with one dose living in residence will also have to receive their second dose “within the timeframe recommended by Ottawa Public Health.”

People who haven’t been granted an exemption and don’t get vaccinated or submit proof of having done so by the deadlines set out by the school will have their residence agreements terminated, uOttawa warns.

“Medical and health professionals are clear that vaccination is the most (effective) means of protecting people and those around them,” reads a statement provided to this newspaper by uOttawa’s director of strategic communications, Patrick Charette.

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“It is precisely for this reason that the University of Ottawa is requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-2022 academic year to be fully vaccinated. The University recognizes that some students may require accommodations for a variety of reasons and will be treating exceptions appropriately.”

Faculty, staff and students are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, the statement notes.

“Ensuring a high vaccine coverage in all communities is critical to ensuring an ongoing decline in cases and ending the pandemic. This will be especially important with the return of students to post-secondary institutions in our region in the fall of 2021.”

Neither Carleton University nor Algonquin College is currently mandating vaccination for students living in residence, according to the websites for both schools. But uOttawa isn’t alone in its policy – Western University, Trent University, Durham College and Fanshawe College have all implemented similar requirements. Seneca College, in the GTA, is going even further, making vaccination mandatory for students and staff to come to campus, in-person, for the fall term.

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