Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is urging Canadians to take the first vaccine they’re offered, as Health Canada hits pause on giving the AstraZeneca jab to those under the age of 55.
On Monday, Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) issued the new guidelines due to concerns over reports of blood clots. While chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam called the move a “precautionary measure,” concerns about vaccine hesitancy bubbled up among experts.
Still, Trudeau says Canadians should jump at the opportunity to receive any COVID-19 jab – including the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“The bottom line for Canadians is the right vaccine for you to take is the very first vaccine that you are offered,” he said, speaking in a press conference on Tuesday.
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He acknowledged that the hesitancy surrounding the AstraZeneca vaccine is “certainly something that is on (the government’s) mind,” but that getting the population vaccinated is the key to containing the deadly spread of the virus.
“The more we get Canadians vaccinated, quickly and safely, the quicker we’ll be able to get back to a semblance of normality,” Trudeau said.
“With the variants that are more severe and more transmissible increasing around the population, we need to make sure we’re doing everything we can to get through this.”
Speaking to Global News in an interview on Monday, experts explained that despite the fact that Health Canada hit pause on the AstraZeneca jabs for those under the age of 55, Canadians who are still allowed to get the vaccine should feel very safe doing so.
“You’re starting to get in the odds of, you’re going to get hit by lightning going to the vaccine appointment, (rather) than getting this complication,” said Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease specialist.
“It’s not zero, but again, you live in a world where COVID-19 is rising, where, again, people’s complications are rising… this is a balance.”
NACI issues new guidelines on using AstraZeneca shot for people under 55
He said for those over the age of 55, that balance is “way, way” in favour of getting the jab.
Trudeau reiterated that the shifting advice on the AstraZeneca vaccine is the result of changing science – and that for the public health officials making these decisions, the safety of Canadians stays firmly front of mind.
“As we get more and more data, experts are refining and shifting their recommendations,” Trudeau said.
“Canadians need to know that every step of the way, there is one thing driving all these experts, and that is keeping Canadians safe and getting through this pandemic as quickly as possible.”
Tam added that while it may appear that the recommendations are jumping all over the place, the reality is they’ve always been “informed by the data at hand.”
For example, she said, AstraZeneca wasn’t approved for Canadians over 65 because there hadn’t been enough individuals in that age group included in the clinical trials – so they just didn’t know for sure that it was safe. Once real-world data came in for that age group from the U.K., it became apparent that the vaccine was indeed safe for those over age 65.
That’s why that recommendation changed, she said.
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Tam said the new recommendation not to administer AstraZeneca to those under the age of 55 follows the same trend.
“This, again, is new data and it’s a precautionary approach for a rare event,” Tam said, acknowledging that the rare event is “serious.”
She said public health officials “want to be transparent” and that any vaccines that are put into Canadian arms “will be safe and effective for those populations” that they are approved for.
“So I think that’s really, really key,” Tam said.
“For Canadians, when the provinces offer you the vaccine, take the vaccine that you are provided.”
Meanwhile, Canada’s vaccine rollout is heating up. Procurement Minister Anita Anand explained on Tuesday that with a new, expedited timeline for millions of Pfizer doses, Canada is on track to receive at least 44 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of June.
In addition to that, Canada is going to start getting its shipments of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the end of April, officials confirmed Tuesday. Those doses were not included in the 44 million dose tally.
Canada’s population is just shy of 38 million. While all of the 44 million doses require two jabs for full immunization, Canada is focusing on rolling out an initial jab to as many Canadians as possible before worrying about the second vaccine dose.
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“By end of June, we will be having more than 40 million doses of vaccine delivered to Canada. This would place us in a very good situation to say that, by the end of the summer, everyone would have received two doses,” Trudeau said on Tuesday, speaking in French.
“Depending on the distribution of the vaccines by the provinces, it is possible that many people will have received at least their first dose before the summer starts.”
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
96% of COVID-19 cases are among those not fully vaccinated, B.C. health officials say – Global News
Ninety-six per cent of the COVID-19 cases recorded from June 15 to July 15 were among people who were either only partially vaccinated or not vaccinated at all, B.C.’s health minister says.
“If you take all the cases from June 15 to July 15, 78 per cent of those cases are among those who are unvaccinated,” Adrian Dix said.
“I think the evidence will encourage more people to get vaccinated. That tells you people should need to get vaccinated. We are seeing new cases and they are largely in unvaccinated people.”
The B.C. government will not require people to get the vaccine, but will not stop private businesses from doing so.
The seven-day rolling average for new cases rose from 42 new cases a day one week ago, to 73 new cases a day on Friday.
Most of the new cases are linked to indoor social gatherings at people’s homes, Dix said.
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“We are not going to deny access to services. Based on your vaccinated. That is our position. It will not be mandatory in that sense. There will be requirements in certain sense if people are not vaccinated,” Dix said.
“I think if you are going to have someone over to your house for dinner, you should ask them if they have been vaccinated, and it’s ok to tell them not to come if they haven’t been.”
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As of Friday, 80.3 per cent of eligible people 12 and older in B.C. have received at least one vaccine.
The province is hoping to hit 85 per cent immunization.
All five health authorities have been adopting additional strategies to supplement the mass immunization clinics, including pop-up clinics for first doses at parks, amusement parks, and beaches.
Dr. Navdeep Grewal of the South Asian COVID-19 Task Force said the province or private businesses should consider vouchers for food or sports tickets to encourage immunization.
“I think it is that final 10 per cent (of the population) we need to get vaccinated, so we can avoid the fourth wave in the fall and winter,” Grewal said.
“We need to find out where they are gathering, give them the information they need, and then give them that first dose that is so needed.”
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Run, don't walk, to the nearest clinic to get vaccinated before September, families told – CBC.ca
Kids who are going back to local elementary and high schools in September must get their first COVID-19 shot by Saturday to ensure they’re eligible for their second dose and be fully vaccinated by Labour Day, according to the health unit.
The Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) says 73 per cent of those aged 12 to 17 in Middlesex-London already have their first shot, and just over a quarter have two doses.
“The uptake among this age group has been tremendous, right on board with some of our older population who was really eager to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Alex Summers, the associate medical officer of health for the MLHU.
“We see eagerness for people to get vaccinated and we’re just delighted by that. 12 to 17-year-olds will be back in in-person activities, and that’s where they flourish, that’s where they want to be, and we want to be able to support them to do so in a way that COVID isn’t transmitting.”
Vaccination is the “key ingredient” to maximizing the coming school year and making sure there are few disruptions.
COVID-19 vaccines have yet to be approved for those under 12.
“That’s why it’s really important to be gathering outdoors and making sure that everybody who is older than the age of 12 who is interacting with kids is vaccinated,” Summers said. “We can limit transmission among those who just can’t get the vaccine because they’re not old enough as we approach the school year.”
What exactly school will look like in September isn’t quite clear, but screening for symptoms, staying home when exhibiting symptoms, and wearing masks in classrooms are likely.
No appointments are required for COVID-19 vaccinations for anyone 12 or older for first or second doses at walk-in and mass vaccination sites. For more information on vaccinations and locations, visit the health unit’s website here.
Air Canada anticipating recovery in demand as travel restrictions are eased – Yahoo Canada Finance
Air Canada is anticipating a recovery in demand in the coming months as travel restrictions are eased and leisure passengers look to get away after being grounded by COVID-19.
Although overall bookings remain below pre-pandemic levels, customer interest began to increase in June with the elimination of quarantines for fully vaccinated returning Canadians and the removal of other travel restrictions.
“We can now optimistically say that we are turning a corner, and we expect to soon see correlated financial improvements,” CEO Michael Rousseau said Friday during a conference call.
“Indications are that the worst effects of the COVID-19 pandemic may now be behind us. Based on what we are seeing in other markets that are further along in reopening in Canada, we anticipate travel will resume at a quickening pace.”
Rousseau said bookings are steadily increasing for domestic, transborder and Atlantic markets as well as to sun destinations for the coming winter. Future bookings In some weeks of June were ahead of the same period in 2019.
“We expect the most recent announcements of the Government of Canada relaxing existing measures will further help strengthen the interest of our customers in flying again.”
Current demand is largely for leisure and visiting friends and family, but Air Canada expects to see a progressive return of corporate demand in September and October, added chief commercial officer Lucie Guillemette.
That could be aided by the ability of Canadian passengers to rely on COVID tests taken in Canada for trips of less than 72 hours.
“We are encouraged by some of the commentary from our peers in the United States with regards to overall business travel recovery,” she told analysts.
Guillemette said that rebuilding its U.S. operations as the largest foreign carrier is key to its recovery. That will also expedite the recovery of international long-haul operations as it seeks to achieve or exceed its share of the U.S. long-haul global market.
The Atlantic business will recover quicker than the Pacific or Latin America because of high vaccination rates, strong cultural and business connections with Europe and strong leisure interest from Canadians.
“We are already observing healthy demand signals for Europe into 2022,” she added.
The Montreal-based company says it lost $1.17 billion or $3.31 per diluted share, compared with a loss of $1.75 billion or $6.44 per share a year earlier.
Adjusted profits were $1.08 billion or $3.03 per share.
Revenues during the three months ended June 30 surged 58.8 per cent to $837 million from $527 million in the second quarter of 2020. Passenger revenues more than doubled to $426 million from a year ago which marked the first full quarter to be impacted by the pandemic. Cargo revenues increased 33 per cent to a record $358 million.
Air Canada was expected to post $2.76 per share in adjusted profits on $848.2 million of revenues, according to financial data firm Refitinitv.
The country’s largest airline increased its seat capacity by 78 per cent compared to the same time last year, and was down 86 per cent from the second quarter of 2019. It plans to increase available seat miles in the third quarter so capacity will be 65 per cent below the same period in 2019.
In August, its domestic capacity is expected to be about two-thirds of what it was in 2019.
“The third-quarter outlook pointed to healthy demand recovery and a significant improvement in daily cash burn,” Walter Spracklin of RBC Dominion Securities wrote in a report.
Air Canada says it has refunded about $1 billion for non-refundable tickets and expects to pay an additional $200 million in the third quarter, which will be covered by the federal government’s $1.4 billion refund credit facility.
The airline says it has recalled about 2,900 employees in June and July as it restores service this summer to destinations, particularly in Canada and the U.S. More workers will be called back for the fall season.
Air Canada has retained about half of its workforce, including the vast majority of pilots who have remained current and ready to fly when conditions warrant.
While it works to rebuild operations, the airline said it is also preparing to meet the challenges from increased competition stemming from expansion plans for Porter Airlines and Flair Airlines. Porter plans to add jet service from several gateways, including Toronto’s Pearson airport, in the second half of next year, while Flair is adding aircraft and routes.
“We certainly welcome healthy competition. but suffice to say, we will be ready to deal with that situation,” Rousseau said of Porter.
He also said the failed purchased of Transat may have been beneficial long-term, but it would have been very difficult to integrate while also focusing on the post-COVID recovery.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 23, 2021.
Companies in this story: (TSX:AC)
Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press
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