Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on May 18, 2021


May 18, 2021 - Ottawa, ON - Public Health Agency of Canada 

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to create stress and anxiety for many Canadians, particularly those who do not have ready access to their regular support networks. Through the Wellness Together Canada online portal, people of all ages across the country can access immediate, free and confidential mental health and substance use supports, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Nationally, disease activity continues to decline, but there are still areas of Canada experiencing very high infection rates. Over the past seven days, an average of 5,700 cases have been reported daily and the number of people experiencing severe and critical illness remains elevated; on average over 3,600 people with COVID-19 were being treated in our hospitals each day, including over 1,300 in intensive care units, and there were an average of 43 deaths reported daily. Nevertheless, we are making steady progress, with a 25% decrease in reported active cases since the peak of the 3rd wave in mid-April.

Last week, we had more encouraging news including significant increases in vaccine supplies, and expansion and innovation of vaccination programs across the country that are helping to protect as many Canadians as possible, faster. On Sunday, the Thorncliffe Park vaccination clinic in East York achieved a great milestone and a Canadian first in vaccine delivery by providing over 10,000 people with a dose of COVID-19 vaccine, in less than 24 hours, at a single clinic location!

At the same time, regulatory and expert authorities in Canada continue to assess the evidence for safe, effective and optimised use of COVID-19 vaccines in Canada. Following Health Canada’s authorisation of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use in children aged 12 to 15 years on May 5th, Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has completed their expert review, with new advice for federal, provincial and territorial governments released today. NACI recommends that a complete series of two-doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine can be offered to individuals 12 to 18 years of age who are eligible to receive the vaccine.

The coming weeks and months hold great promise. Accelerated vaccine roll out will return greater benefits, if we maintain caution while allowing the vaccines time to build our protection. Many of us are achieving priming protection from our first dose of vaccine during the spring and summer months, to be followed by our second –immunity boosting dose– that will maximise protection. During this time, as immunity builds up across the population, it is very important to continue following local public health advice, including about when and where to maintain essential precautions such as masking and spacing. This will help us stay healthy, while allowing us to safely enjoy more activities and small reunions outdoors. Importantly, this cautious approach will also set us up for a better fall. Maintaining our progress to reduce infection rates down to manageable levels, ease pressure on the health system, and re-establish public health capacity will put us in a better position to prevent a fall resurgence.

Working together we can end this pandemic and get back to the connections and activities that enrich our social and economic life and wellbeing in Canada.

Read my backgrounder to access COVID-19 Information and Resources, including information on vaccination and ways to reduce your risk of infection and spreading the virus to others.


Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada

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