Surgeon General’s message on the COVID-19 vaccine

April 7, 2021 - Defence Stories

Major-General Marc Bilodeau
Caption

Major-General Marc Bilodeau
Surgeon General, Canadian Armed Forces

Dear Defence Team members:

It’s hard to believe that we have been collectively battling the COVID-19 pandemic for an entire year. I understand the toll the year has taken, and continues to take, on many of us. Please know that the sacrifices you have made – whether big or small – have helped to make a profound difference in the fight against this deadly virus. Thank you.

While the battle against COVID-19 is not yet over, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Canada has begun to receive and administer Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccines and is now on track to receive a total of 36.5 million doses by July. Also, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) began administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to those members in the first priority group in early January 2021, in accordance with the COVID-19 Vaccine Prioritization Framework. This is great progress.

The CAF will soon receive and administer additional doses to eligible members in the next priority groups. It is expected that members in all priority groups will be offered the vaccine sometime between April and August 2021, with the goal of vaccinating as many CAF personnel as possible with both doses of the vaccine in that timeframe.

I am once again asking for your help to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities as well as continue to protect yourself, your families, and those around you.

I strongly encourage all CAF members and public service employees to receive a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine once it becomes available to them. All Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccines are effective at reducing the symptoms and severity of COVID-19. The vaccine will help keep Defence Team members and their families healthy, protect vulnerable Canadians, reduce the burden on our health-care systems and ensure our force remains operationally ready to be called upon when needed.

Vaccination is one part of Canada’s plan to beat COVID-19. Vaccines help prevent a person from becoming infected if exposed to the virus, and, if infected, reduce how severe the disease can be. Broad vaccination of all eligible persons provides the best possible chance that COVID-19 related restrictions can be reduced. In the meantime, recommended public health measures will need to be maintained.

Canada has a rigorous system in place to ensure that vaccines are safe and effective in preventing disease before they are approved for use. Once a vaccine is being administered, health authorities continue to monitor its delivery to ensure the highest standards of safety and effectiveness.

For Regular Force members and full-time Reservists (>180 days): Clinics will be organized through Canadian Forces Health Services in the coming weeks and months as vaccines becomes available. Clinics will adhere to COVID-19 public health measures when administering COVID-19 vaccines. More information regarding your clinic will be released by your local Canadian Forces Health Services Centre. It is expected that members in all priority groups will be offered the vaccine sometime between April and August 2021, with the goal of vaccinating as many CAF personnel as possible with both doses of the vaccine in that timeframe.

OUTCAN members and their families: The CAF is responsible to ensure every one of its members has the opportunity to receive a Health Canada-approved vaccine no matter where they are in the world. Efforts are well underway to ensure that each and every deployed member, and posted members and their families (where required) have access to those vaccines. To support our efforts, the DND/CAF has coordinated with and authorized some Host Nation and coalition medical authorities to offer Health Canada-approved vaccines from their own national allocations. Some members (and their dependents where required) may be able to receive vaccinations from host nations, while others will receive vaccination in Canada prior to departure. As of right now, most deployed CAF members and those posted outside of Canada will have not yet received a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine from the initial allocation received by the CAF. Planning efforts are underway to ensure that CAF members deployed or posted outside of Canada, as well as their dependents are able to access a Health Canada-approved vaccine. New rotations of deploying members, and those preparing for postings OUTCAN are expected to receive vaccines prior to their departure date.

Public Service Employees, Class A and Class B reservists (<180 days) and CAF family members: The vast majority of you will be able to access the COVID-19 vaccine through your provincial/territorial health care system as it becomes available in your area. There may be operational circumstances that allow the CAF to provide you with COVID-19 vaccination on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with CAF priorities and vaccine availability.

For more information about Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccines, please visit the Government of Canada’s Vaccines for COVID-19 web page.

Do your part to stay healthy and safe; receive your vaccine against COVID-19!

 

Major-General Marc Bilodeau
Surgeon General, Canadian Armed Forces

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