(E) The COVID-19 global pandemic is a serious health threat that we have been battling for over a year. The most important thing that Defence Team members and their families can do, in addition to following the current public health recommendations in the fight against this deadly virus, is to get a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine once it becomes available.
Today, Major-General Marc Bilodeau, Surgeon General for the Canadian Armed Forces joins me to speak more on the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
Thanks so much for joining us, Major-General Bilodeau.
What would you say to those Defence Team members and their families who will soon have access to the COVID-19 vaccine?
(M)Yes, so after the Public Health measures that are currently in place and very well adhered to by our members, the next step in bringing us towards the end of the pandemic is the vaccine. The vaccine that will reduce the risk of being infected by COVID but also reduce the severity of any infection by COVID. So, definitely, this will bring us closer to the end of the pandemic and will help protect not only our members, but also their loved ones.
(E) What are the possible side effects of the vaccine and how are they being monitored?
(M) So the currently approved vaccines in Canada are... The results basically of very robust approval process at Health Canada by which the efficacy as well as the safety of those vaccines are being reviewed, and not only short term, but also on the longer term. So the side effects are being monitored and captured as we move forward. So, therefore, recommendations could be amended if required in order to insure safety of our members.
(E) Will CAF members be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
(M) So the vaccine will be offered on a voluntary basis, and people will need to consent to receive the vaccine. Having said that, there are going to be circumstances where the vaccine will be made a condition of employment or deployment. And that decision will be made in consultation between the military commanders and their medical advisors and will be based on their risk assessment regarding the type of mission, the environment of that mission and the risk of that mission in order to protect ultimately the health of our members.
(E) Is there anything else you’d like to add?
(M) Yes, so I think what I would like to ask is that all of our members, you know, have the accurate information in order to make an informed decision regarding their choice to receive or not the vaccine. So I think it's everybody's responsibility to make sure that they are well informed and that they reach out to the reliable sources, either the Health Canada website or the Canadian Forces Health Services Group website in order to have the accurate information to inform their decision. I also encourage all members to receive the vaccine. This is definitely the best way to protect yourself, your colleagues as well as your loved ones, as we face the next step of our pandemic. And obviously, please do not forget to keep adhering to Public Health measures in the meantime.
(E) Thank you very much for joining us today, Major-General Bilodeau.
(M) My pleasure.