Canadians vaccinated with a single dose of the COVID-19 vaccine can hang out with close family and friends during the summer months, Canada’s chief public health official said today.
As the vaccine supply increases, almost all Canadians will have access to at least one vaccine by June. Dr. Theresa Tom said the extra security layer would allow some drastic social distance measures to be relaxed – but Canadians should avoid indoor gatherings altogether until more people are fully vaccinated.
Tom said there will be more social summer depending on Canadians staying in late spring. The number of cases is still high and vaccine protection is so low that now public health measures cannot be eliminated, he said. Even those who have been partially vaccinated should stay away from others until there is widespread vaccine coverage in the coming weeks.
Tom said provinces should begin removing public health restrictions only once 75 percent of all adults have been vaccinated and at least 20 percent have been fully vaccinated. As of Friday, 50 percent of Canadian adults have a shot.
After reaching that 75 percent milestone, Canadians can safely enjoy camping, hiking, picnicking, small backyard BBQs and drinks on a patio, he said.
The “primary purpose” for governments at all levels is to create conditions that allow provinces and territories to facilitate slow locks and facilitate orders that are now in-house.
But Canadians still have to avoid all crowds, and somewhat vaccinated people must continue to adhere to social distance and wear public masks in the near future.
“Vaccines can be a key help in keeping your rates low and point to the future, some of which we long for without a resurgence,” Tom said.
“People with a single dose should feel more confident that they are being best protected, but you should get that second dose for maximum protection.”
When asked why Canada is so high on abandoning some drastic public health measures, Tom said it is up to the provinces and territories to decide when social and economic life can return to normal.
Tom said the UK was reopening with lower vaccination rates as it was able to “crush” the third wave and have fewer cases than Canada. “Their epidemiological picture is completely different,” he said.
Beyond vaccine readings, jurisdictions need to keep track of their reuse numbers – statistics showing how widespread COVID-19 is in their communities – before reopening.
“You need to allow epidemiology and data to run slowly reopening activities at the local level,” he said.
Tom said Canada would take a more cautious approach, while the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that fully vaccinated Americans can clear their masks on most masks.
“I think masks may be the last layer of that multi-layered protection and we advise people to remove it,” he said.
The United States is further advanced in fully vaccinating its adults; Less than 4 percent of all Canadians have two sizes of American adults, compared to less than 4 percent. Canada has delayed the second dose by up to 16 weeks to provide at least some antibody protection against COVID-19.
A UK study released on Thursday found that waiting up to 12 weeks between first and second Pfizer levels can actually be beneficial.
A Study Led by the University of Birmingham in collaboration with the Department of Public Health, it found that antibodies to the virus were three and a half times higher in those who took a second shot three months later than in those who were after a three-week break. .
In the fall – if vaccine coverage becomes too widespread, 75 per cent of all eligible Canadians will have the required two levels – restrictions on higher education, indoor sports and family gatherings could be lifted, Health Minister Patti Hajdu said.
“We can do more activities indoors with people outside our home,” he said. “More people need to be vaccinated so we can ease controls.”
Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Canada’s vaccination campaign will receive a big boost next week when Pfizer delivers more footage than originally planned.
A total of 4.5 million MRNA shots – 3.4 million from Pfizer and 1.1 million from Moderna – are now due to arrive by Victoria Day long weekend.
“We are in constant talks with our suppliers to expedite deliveries so that the provinces and territories can get the vaccines quickly into the hands of Canadians,” Anand said.
Canada received the 665,000 dose of AstraZeneca vaccine on Thursday. Those shots will be assigned to those who have already received the first dose of these products, Tom said.
“I think there may be fewer people taking the AstraZeneca vaccine in the second dose, but it’s important to still have that option,” he said.