Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on June 17, 2022
June 17, 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.
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 brief summary of the latest national trends.
For additional COVID-19 data and analyses, the PHAC posts the following reports:
- COVID-19 data trends and reports, including links to COVIDTrends, a local activity look up tool; past modelling reports; latest national epidemiological reports, and links to provincial/territorial reporting sites.
- Weekly COVID-19 Epidemiological Update
- COVID-19 wastewater surveillance dashboard
- COVID-19 vaccine coverage data
- Reported Side Effects Following COVID-19 Vaccination in Canada
While SARS-CoV-2 virus is still circulating across the country, disease activity indicators, including daily case counts and lab test positivity, are stabilizing at the national level with most areas continuing to decline. Wastewater signals have plateaued or are continuing to decline in many areas, however there is variability from testing sites across the country. Although hospitalizations rates remain elevated and variable, severe illness trends are also continuing to decline in most areas. While we are cautiously optimistic about the current trajectory, we are observing early signals of increased activity in some areas.
Nevertheless, as we expect the SARS-CoV-2 virus to continuously evolve, we are closely monitoring the domestic and international situation and preparing for new variants. This includes several Omicron and Omicron-BA.2 sub-lineages, specifically BA.2.12.1, BA.4, and BA.5, that have demonstrated a growth advantage and additional immune escape over BA.1 and BA.2. Because the Omicron variant is immune evasive, two doses of COVID-19 vaccines offer less protection against Omicron than against previous variants. Fortunately, evidence shows that 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 vaccines generally maintain good effectiveness against severe outcomes across variants, and a booster further increases vaccine effectiveness to over 90% against severe outcomes. Thus health authorities continue to strongly recommend up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination for all eligible people, including for those who may have been previously infected.
In particular, getting a booster dose(s), if you are eligible, helps improve protection that may have decreased since the second dose and provide even better protection against severe illness from Omicron. This is especially important for those aged 50 years of age or older, given the risk of severe illness increases with increasing age. As of June 16, 2022, over 18.7 million third doses and as of May 22, 2022 over 2.5 million fourth doses have been administered to date. As well, national data as of May 22, 2022 indicate that over 86% of seniors aged 70 years or older and 62%-77% of 50-69 year olds have received at least one additional dose.
During the transition phase of the pandemic and beyond, our best advantage is to continue maintaining caution and a state of readiness as we prepare our surge capacity for future response, while not forgetting the personal protective habits we have learned. At the individual level, this can be best achieved by keeping COVID-19 vaccinations up-to-date, including getting a booster dose(s) as recommended to be better protected against serious illness and other complications of COVID-19 infection, including post COVID-19 condition (also known as long COVID). At the same time, continuing to follow public health advice tailored to local epidemiology and circumstances can help guide your individual and family risk assessment and use of personal protective practices to reduce your risk of exposure and spreading the virus. In particular, properly wearing a well-fitted and well-constructed face mask, avoiding crowding, and getting the best ventilation possible in indoor spaces, are layers of protection that can reduce your risk in all settings. As always, staying home and away from others when you are sick or experiencing any COVID-like symptoms, even if mild, is advised to reduce of the risk of spreading the virus.
We can also stay healthier by getting up-to-date with other recommended vaccines and routine vaccines for children and adults. 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 Immunize.ca and Canada.ca, which includes information to help Canadians understand the benefits of being vaccinated against COVID-19.
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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