Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on July 15, 2022
July 15, 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
Nationally, both COVID-19 disease activity and severity indicators have increased in recent weeks, as the BA.5 sub-lineage of Omicron predominates in more areas across Canada. Compared to prior weeks, all indicators are increasing nationally, from weekly case counts and laboratory test positivity to average daily numbers of people with COVID-19 in hospitals in Canada.
As we expect the SARS-CoV-2 virus to continue evolving, PHAC maintains ongoing monitoring of circulating SARS-CoV-2 viruses across Canada and is currently closely monitoring several Omicron sub-lineages that have demonstrated a growth advantage and additional immune escape over BA.1 and BA.2 sub-lineages. While the precise impacts are unknown, it is reasonable to expect that we could see a continued increase in case numbers over the weeks ahead, particularly as a result the BA.5 sub-lineage of Omicron increasing in proportion among sequenced viruses.
Although the latest serological survey data from the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF) indicate that infection-acquired immunity rose steeply in Canada during the first five months of the Omicron wave, recent evidence suggests that most of those infected remain at risk of re-infection with similar and other viruses in the Omicron lineage. This is particularly the case for people who are not yet vaccinated or whose COVID-19 vaccinations are not up-to-date. As such, keeping up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccines, including booster doses, continues to be very important for reducing the risk of hospitalisation and death due to COVID-19. The latest available vaccine effectiveness data between May 09, 2022 and June 05, 2022, when Omicron variant activity was still predominating, indicate that people vaccinated with a complete primary series plus an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccines had an approximately four times lower hospitalisation rate and a six times lower mortality rate, compared to unvaccinated people.
Yesterday marked an important further expansion of Canada's COVID-19 vaccination program, with Health Canada authorising the first COVID-19 vaccine for use in children under the age of 5 years. Moderna's Spikevax mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (25 mcg) is now authorized for use as a two-dose primary series in children 6 months to 5 years of age. As well, Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has reviewed clinical trial data on the safety, efficacy and immune response generated by the Moderna Spikevax COVID-19 vaccine (25 mcg) in children in this age group along with a review of the epidemiological data on the spread and severity of COVID-19 in children under 5 years of age.
At this time, NACI has provided recommendations on the use of the Moderna Spikevax COVID-19 vaccine (25 mcg) for children aged 6 months to 5 years, including that:
- A primary series of two doses of the Moderna Spikevax COVID-19 vaccine (25 mcg) may be offered to children 6 months to 5 years of age who do not have contraindications to the vaccine, with an interval of at least 8 weeks between the first and second dose.
- A primary series of three doses of the Moderna Spikevax COVID-19 vaccine (25 mcg) may be offered to children 6 months to 5 years of age who are moderately to severely immunocompromised and do not have contraindications to the vaccine, with an interval of 4 to 8 weeks between each dose.
As this is a newly authorized COVID-19 vaccine in this age group, NACI recommends the Moderna Spikevax COVID-19 vaccine (25 mcg) should not routinely be given on the same day as other vaccines and should be given 14 days before or after a different vaccine. This will help to determine if a potential side effect could be due to the Moderna Spikevax COVID-19 vaccine (25 mcg) or a different vaccine. As well, NACI recommends a shorter interval between the administration of the Moderna Spikevax vaccine (25 mcg) and a different vaccine may be warranted in some circumstances at the discretion of a health care provider.
With these recommendations, access to COVID-19 vaccination is now expanded to include all people in Canada over the age of 6 months and without contraindications. Going forward, health authorities and NACI experts will closely monitor domestic rollout of the expanded pediatric program in Canada and continue to review accumulating evidence from international programs and studies. During this time, it is very important that we continue to support children and their caregivers in making informed decisions about COVID-19 vaccination, while respecting their choices and pace of decision-making.
Throughout the summer and heading into the fall, our best advantage is to continue to be vigilant with personal protective habits, while we maintain a state of readiness and prepare our surge capacity for ongoing and future response. At the individual level, readiness can be best achieved by keeping COVID-19 vaccinations up-to-date, including getting booster doses 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 test positive using a rapid test, or 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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