COVID-19 information and resources: reducing your risk for infection and spreading the virus
Canadians can access comprehensive information and resources on COVID-19 on the Government of Canada coronavirus disease website Canada.ca/coronavirus, including updates on the current situation, self-assessment and mental and physical health resources. The website also provides guidance on limiting the spread of the virus to others in community, business and medical professional settings.
Immediate mental health and substance use supports are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to Canadians of all ages and at no cost, at the Wellness Together Canada online portal.
Additional information on the epidemiology of COVID-19 for public health professionals is available in the daily COVID-19 in Canada epidemiology update.
As always, I urge all Canadians to continue with our collective efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 in Canada, particularly in light of the emergence of new virus variants of concern that could rapidly reaccelerate the epidemic in Canada. A range of community-based public health measures are in place to interrupt the spread of the virus. Living with COVID-19 means remaining aware of the risks for exposure in your area and making informed decisions based on the latest advice, including recommendations of public health authorities in your jurisdiction and local area.
As the colder weather continues and many of our activities remain indoors, Canadians should continue to be vigilant about following public health guidance. It is important to limit close contacts to just those in our immediate household and reduce in-person interactions to essential errands and activities, while consistently maintaining key public health practices. In addition, limit the time you spend in settings and situations that have not implemented measures, protocols and policies to reduce the risk of exposure. At this time, Canadians are advised to avoid all non-essential travel. If you must travel outside Canada for essential reasons, be aware of the requirements for visiting other countries and for returning to Canada.
To keep yourself and others safer during COVID-19, think about the risks: ask yourself the questions in the below “Quick Checks” table to consider your risk, based on (A) your personal/close contacts' risk factors and (B) risk factors posed by the setting/activity. Then, consider layering up with (C) things you can do to reduce your risk of infection and unintentionally spreading the virus.
A. PERSONAL AND HOUSEHOLD/CONTACT
C. THINGS YOU CAN DO TO REDUCE YOUR RISK OF INFECTION AND UNINTENTIONALLY SPREADING THE VIRUS
Looking Ahead: COVID-19 Vaccines
Vaccination is a proven way to reduce the impact of infectious diseases, including COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines will help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us getting the illness. Currently, we are still collecting evidence to be able to determine how effective COVID-19 vaccines will be in creating longer-term immunity.
On December 9, 2020, we achieved a key milestone in our COVID-19 response with the regulatory approval of Canada’s first vaccine against COVID-19 (Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine mRNA vaccine (Tozinameran or BNT162b2)). This was followed by regulatory approval of the Moderna COVID-19 mRNA vaccine (mRNA-1273) on December 23, 2020. As the initial rollout of priority immunizations continues, I encourage all Canadians to learn more about COVID-19 vaccines in Canada, including how vaccines are developed. Visit Canada.ca for more information on Canada’s rigorous approval process for reviewing and authorizing vaccines to ensure safety, efficacy and quality standards, and ongoing monitoring for vaccine safety and effectiveness.
During the beginning phases of the rollout while vaccine supply is limited, the initial doses are being prioritized for high-risk groups. The availability of vaccine will increase throughout 2021, providing everyone in Canada with the opportunity to be vaccinated. Delivery of any vaccine is contingent on Health Canada approval, but we expect every recommended group in Canada to have access to COVID-19 vaccine by the Fall of 2021.
Canada’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan provides more details on how COVID-19 vaccines will be made accessible to all Canadians, in an efficient and coordinated manner. A key component of the vaccine process in Canada involves The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), an External Advisory Body that provides the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) with independent, ongoing and timely medical, scientific, and public health advice. For over 50 years, NACI has safeguarded our health, reviewing the research on vaccines, and making recommendations for the use of vaccines currently or newly approved for use in Canada.
As we move towards widespread and lasting control of COVID-19 through the use of safe and effective vaccines, Canadians must continue with public health practices to protect themselves and their loved ones as well as people and communities at high risk for severe outcomes. Our continued efforts are not only helping public health to quickly interrupt chains of transmission, we are also assisting the broader health workforce and partners to plan for and rollout out one of the most complex immunization campaigns in Canada’s history.
Canadians are encouraged to seek out trusted and reliable sources of information to help guide vaccination decisions. If you are reading or sharing information through your social media channels, please make sure that the information is from an original source that you can trust.
- Footnote *
Risks may vary based on your ability to maintain the greatest physical distance possible from others; the use of non-medical masks by you and others; and the measures in place to reduce exposure in the setting you are in. Generally, the risk of exposure will increase with prolonged duration and in closed indoor or crowded settings or close contact situations, particularly if activities involve close-range conversations or forceful exhalation (talking loudly/shouting, singing, coughing).
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