COVID-19 information and resources: reducing your risk for infection and spreading the virus

Backgrounder

April 2022

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, guidance on how to reduce the risks to protect yourself and others, as well as self-assessment and mental and physical health resources.

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 (WTC) online portal. PocketWell, a free companion app to the WTC online portal, provides another way to help Canadians access online mental health and substance use resources, and measure and monitor aspects of their mental well-being. PocketWell is available as a free download from the App Store or the Google Play Store.

Additional information on the epidemiology of COVID-19 for public health professionals is available in the latest COVID-19 in Canada epidemiology update.

As we move into a transition phase of the pandemic and beyond, Canada’s stronger foundation of protection gained through the development and application of a range of tools can help us achieve a more balanced and sustainable approach to long term management of COVID-19. As we strive to reduce serious outcomes, these tools, including vaccines, surveillance and public health, clinical and treatment measures, can help support vulnerable populations and reduce impacts on health systems, while minimizing societal disruptions.

Our best advantage going forward will be maintaining a state of readiness. At the individual level, readiness can be best achieved by keeping COVID-19 vaccinations up-to-date, including getting a booster dose (or doses) when eligible and continuing to follow public health advice tailored to local epidemiology and circumstances to guide your individual and family risk assessment and decisions on use of personal protective practices.

Things you can do to reduce your risk of infection and help reduce the spread of COVID-19

  • Keeping up-to-date with approved COVID-19 vaccines, including getting a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose (or doses) as eligible and recommended, is an important foundation of protection against COVID-19 and its harms. Plan for, register, and keep up-to-date with recommended vaccinations. See below for more information on COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Even if it's not specifically required, and whether you are vaccinated or not, consider properly wearing a well-fitted and well-constructed mask, especially indoors, as an added layer of protection.
  • Consider checking local virus activity and public health recommendations to guide your individual and family risk assessment and decision-making on safer ways to participate in society and meet your physical, social and mental health needs
  • Staying home and keeping away from others if you test positive or are experiencing any symptoms, even if mild.
  • Improving ventilation in indoor spaces, such as opening doors or windows regularly to create a cross-breeze of fresh air and taking actions to ensure your heating, ventilation and air condition (HVAC) system is properly installed, maintained and operational.
  • Your risk of exposure and spreading the virus is always lower in outdoor settings.
  • Accessing quality information remains crucial for safety and success. There is a lot of misinformation circulating online and on social media so it is important to fact check against trusted and credible sources. Canadians can go the extra mile by sharing credible information and updates with others.

COVID-19 Vaccination

Vaccination is a proven way to reduce the impact of infectious diseases, including COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us getting the illness and evidence continues to demonstrate that getting vaccinated as recommended reduces your risk of serious illness, hospitalisation and death due to COVID-19.

In particular, getting a booster dose if you are eligible and especially for those aged 50 years of age or older is very important. The latest evidence indicates that an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine booster dose can provide longer-lasting protection and better effectiveness, even if you have been previously infected.

Because the Omicron variant is immune evasive, two doses of COVID-19 vaccines offer less protection against this variant than against previous variants. Fortunately, boosters can help increase antibody levels that wane over time after the second dose. Although vaccine effectiveness against infection decreases over time, evidence shows that two doses of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines generally maintain good effectiveness against severe outcomes across variants, and a booster dose further increases vaccine effectiveness to over 90% against severe outcomes.

I encourage all Canadians to learn more about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada, including how vaccines are developed and what to expect at your vaccination. 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.

Canadians are encouraged to seek out trusted and reliable sources of information to help guide vaccination decisions, such as your health care provider, local public health authority or Canada.ca and Immunize.ca.

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.

COVID-19 Treatment

If you are concerned about your symptoms, consult your health care provider or local health care resources in your community. They may recommend steps or medications you can take. In particular, if you are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe outcomes, it is recommended that you learn about accessing early treatment before you get sick.  There are different treatments available for COVID-19 , including some that should be started promptly after symptoms appear. Knowing how to access treatment beforehand can help minimise delays in beginning your treatment in the event you do get infected.

 
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