Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on October 1, 2021
October 1, 2021 | Ottawa, ON | Public Health Agency of Canada
Yesterday we paused to recognize the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Moving forward we can honour those lost and show compassion for Survivors by continuing to listen, learn and understand the ongoing impacts of residential schools on First Nations, Inuit and Métis people & communities. You can continue your learning journey by exploring more about the rich and diverse cultures, voices, experiences and histories of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples.
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.
Mental health supports are available:
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.
Indigenous peoples across Canada can connect with the Hope for Wellness Help Line 24.
Former students of Residential Schools and their families can call 1-866-925-4419
This week, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) released updated guidance recommending an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty or Moderna Spikevax) booster dose be given to residents in long-term care and seniors in other congregate settings who have already received a complete two-dose primary series of COVID-19 vaccines. Boosting immunity levels in these individuals who are at higher risk of exposure and serious illness will help to maintain their protection against infection and severe outcomes.
NACI is also advising that COVID-19 vaccines may be given at the same time as, or any time before or after, other vaccines including live, non-live, adjuvanted or unadjuvanted vaccines. After reviewing currently available evidence and considering extensive experience with the delivery of routine vaccines, NACI has determined that a precautionary approach is no longer necessary to the co-administration of COVID-19 vaccines. This is great news and means that COVID-19 vaccines can be co-administered with other important vaccines. This will make it easier for people to get their influenza vaccine this fall as well as catch up with other routine vaccines that may have been delayed during the pandemic.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) continues to monitor COVID-19 epidemiological indicators to quickly detect, understand and communicate emerging issues of concern. The following is a summary of the latest national numbers and trends.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 1,620,137 cases of COVID-19 and 27,819 deaths reported in Canada. These cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date, while the number of active cases, now at 44,358, and 7-day moving averages indicate current disease activity and severity trends.
Updated surveillance data show ongoing regional variation in disease activity, but overall, epidemic growth appears to be stabilising nationally. The latest national 7-day average of 4,364 new cases reported daily (Sep 23-29) is an increase of 1,2% over the previous week. We are cautiously optimistic that recent tightening of public health measures in areas where the virus has been surging is beginning to slow the spread. Unfortunately, lagging severity trends are still rising nationally, with recent hospitalisation and critical care admissions primarily involving unvaccinated people. This continued trend together with prolonged hospital stays is putting a heavy strain on local healthcare resources, particularly where infection rates are high and vaccination rates are low. It is hoped that maintaining strengthened control measures in heavily impacted areas will begin to reduce severe illness trends and ease the strain on the health system in the weeks to come. The latest provincial and territorial data show that an average of 2,424 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Sep 23-29), which is 8% higher than last week. This includes, on average, 791 people who were being treated in intensive care units (ICU), 9% more than last week and an average of 38 deaths were reported daily (Sep 23-29).
During this fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada, infections and severe outcomes have several key features:
- Nationally, the highly contagious Delta Variant of Concern (VOC), accounts for the majority of recently reported cases, is associated with increased severity, and may reduce the effectiveness of vaccines
- Most reported cases, hospitalisations and deaths are occurring among unvaccinated people
- Virus spread in areas with low vaccination coverage presents an ongoing risk for emergence of and replacement by new VOCs, including a risk of VOCs with the ability to evade vaccine protection.
Regardless of which SARS-CoV-2 variant is predominating in an area, we know that vaccination, in combination with public health and individual measures, continue to work to reduce disease spread and severe outcomes. In particular, evidence continues to demonstrate that a complete two-dose series of Health-Canada approved COVID-19 vaccines provides substantial protection. Based on the latest data from 12 provinces and territories for the eligible population, 12 years or older:
- From December 14, 2020 to September 11, 2021, 0,13% of fully vaccinated people became infected, with the majority of recent cases and hospitalizations occurring in unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people.
- In recent weeks (August 15 – September 11, 2021):
- the average weekly rate of new COVID-19 cases in unvaccinated people was 10 times higher than in the fully vaccinated.
- the average weekly rate of hospitalized cases in unvaccinated people was 38 times higher compared to fully vaccinated people.
As of September 30, 2021, provinces and territories have administered over 56 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, with the latest provincial and territorial data indicating that over 88% of people aged 12 years or older have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and over 81% are now fully vaccinated. We must strive to have as many eligible people as possible fully vaccinated as quickly as possible to protect ourselves and others, including those who may not mount a strong immune response or who cannot get vaccinated. This fall, implementing timed and targeted public health measures and maintaining individual protective practices will be crucial for slowing infection rates and reducing the impact on healthcare capacity, as we cover this last stretch to reach very high vaccine coverage across all eligible age groups, especially those aged 18-39 years.
For additional information regarding vaccination in your area, reach out to your local public health authorities, healthcare provider, or other trusted and credible sources, such as Canada.ca and Immunize.ca. Canada.ca provides a broad range of COVID-19 information and resources to help Canadians understand the benefits of being vaccinated against COVID-19 and find guidance on life after vaccination.
While COVID-19 is still circulating in Canada and internationally, core public health practices remain crucial: stay home/self-isolate if you have symptoms; be aware of risks associated with different settings; follow local public health advice and maintain individual protective practices. In particular, physical distancing and properly wearing a well-fitted and well-constructed face mask provide additional layers of protection that further reduce your risk in all settings. Canadians are advised to continue avoiding non-essential travel outside of Canada; if you must travel, be aware of the requirements for visiting other countries and for returning to Canada.
Canadians can also go the extra mile by sharing credible information on COVID-19 risks and prevention practices and measures to reduce COVID-19 in communities. Read my backgrounder to access more COVID-19 Information and Resources on ways to reduce the risks and protect yourself and others, including information on COVID-19 vaccination.
Public Health Agency of Canada
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