Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer, April 22, 2022.


April 22, 2022 | 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. 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.

Prior to the long weekend, COVID-19 remained widespread across Canada, with early signs that transmission may have been nearing a peak in some jurisdictions. However, with disease activity still high and the BA.2 sub-lineage now accounting for over 70% of sequenced variants, it is still too soon to tell whether our long weekend activities could lead to another bump ahead. Although concerning, the recent rise of hospitalisation rates in several jurisdictions appears to be manageable, with critical care still trending at low levels. We remain hopeful that the increase in transmission rates over the past several weeks will not result in as heavy an impact on hospitalisation trends as seen during earlier waves. This optimism is grounded in the knowledge of our better immune protection due to overall high vaccine coverage. However, maintaining strong protection against serious illness means keeping COVID-19 vaccinations up-to-date.

Vaccination is a cornerstone of public health and is responsible for saving more lives in the past 50 years in Canada than any other health intervention. Unfortunately, data show there are not only gaps in coverage for recommended COVID-19 vaccinations, but also delayed or missed vaccinations for other serious infectious diseases during the pandemic. So, today we want to remind Canadians once again of the importance of staying up-to-date with all routine vaccinations. And, as tomorrow marks the beginning of National Immunization Awareness Week in Canada, we want to reinforce the importance of vaccinations in protecting our health throughout our lives. This is also an opportunity to thank Canada's healthcare workforce, immunizers, volunteers, community workers and researchers for all the work they've done and continue to do to build a healthier Canada through immunization.

Likewise, we want to extend thanks to Canada's Immunization Partnership Fund, or IPF, recipients. Supporting community-based initiatives led by organisations like these has helped increase vaccine confidence and improve vaccination access and uptake from the ground up. Throughout the largest and perhaps most complex immunization campaign in Canada's history—rolling out COVID-19 primary series and booster dose programs to provide Canadians with a strong foundation of protection—IPF organisations have played vital and innovative roles. These organizations use local knowledge, tailored outreach, and community interventions to reach underserved and undervaccinated populations to reduce barriers to vaccination by addressing information gaps and improving access.

For example, Digital Public Square is receiving IPF funding to support the development of its online platform and tools to dispel rumours and encourage viral sharing of credible health information. Trusted health resources, including an interactive coronavirus quiz are used to counter COVID-19 misinformation, while challenging users to achieve top knowledge rankings and share their COVID-19 knowhow with others.

Science North is another IPF-supported project that is working to provide a comprehensive program of virtual and in-person activities in English and French to support vaccine decision-making. This project will include a public health expert podcast series and webinars for students, parents and caregivers as well as in-person, hands-on exhibits and workshops for family audiences across Northern Ontario. 

With COVID-19 still circulating widely in Canada, VaccinesPlus remains our main public health mantra. Personal precautions like masking, improving ventilation, and staying home if we have symptoms or test positive are still important to reduce spread. At the same time, it is very important to maintain a strong core of protection against severe illness by getting up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccines, including booster doses.

Although there is uncertainty in the months ahead, both for the trajectory of COVID-19 and for other respiratory viruses, like influenza, that have been less common due to strong public health measures, the importance of vaccination is clear. To be prepared with the best possible protection against serious illness due to one or more of these diseases, now is a crucial time for catching up with all recommended vaccinations that help keep us healthy from childhood though adolescence and adulthood.

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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