Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer on October 22, 2021
October 22, 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.
The latest surveillance data show a continued decline in disease activity nationally and in most jurisdictions.
Over the past week, an average of just over 2,800 new cases were reported daily across Canada and severe illness trends are stabilising. On average under 2,400 people with COVID-19 were being treated in our hospitals each day, with over 720 in intensive care units, and 35 deaths were reported daily over the past 7 days.
As we approach 90% of the eligible population having at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccines in Canada, evidence continues to show that being fully vaccinated provides good protection against COVID-19 infection and excellent protection against severe illness. However, no vaccine is perfect and there will be instances of suboptimal protection or breakthrough cases. This is why it is important to remember that vaccines must be part of a comprehensive and layered protection strategy that includes other practices and precautions, as well as ongoing monitoring and adjustments.
As part of Canada's ongoing commitment to carefully monitor vaccine safety and effectiveness—and to update vaccine advice as evidence evolves, Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has updated recommendations to provide Canadians with the best possible protection against COVID-19. NACI's review of the latest available evidence supports, with appropriate clinical oversight, that it is possible to safely provide COVID-19 vaccine to people who experienced very rare immediate severe allergic reactions after receiving a first dose. This means these individuals can receive the additional doses they need to complete their primary COVID-19 vaccine series and be better protected against COVID-19.
As well, updated information from NACI on optimal intervals between first and second doses of a COVID-19 primary vaccine series shows that extending intervals beyond those initially authorized leads to stronger immune responses, providing even better protection against COVID-19 infection and severe outcomes.
While our protection against COVID-19 has been bolstered by vaccines, as we head into respiratory infections season, we also need to think about protection against other infections. In addition to getting up-to-date with recommended vaccines, such as influenza and other routine vaccines for children and adults, we can stay healthier by wearing face masks, keeping up with hand and cough hygiene practices, getting the best ventilation possible in our indoor spaces, and staying home and away from others if we develop symptoms.
Maintaining our simple, well-practiced habits over the fall and winter will help keep us healthier, while easing pressure on the health system for a smoother recovery over the longer term. This goes for planning social events including Halloween; with a bit of our great Canadian creativity, we can ensure that kids, and kids at heart, can have fun and safely enjoy this special tradition.
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.
Public Health Agency of Canada
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