Canada has delayed second doses of COVID-19 vaccines by up to four months — the longest interval recommended by a country so far — but has yet to provide any new guidance to Canadians on what they can or can’t do while waiting for the second shot.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) changed its guidelines earlier this month on the recommended time between doses of COVID-19 vaccines from three weeks to four months.
NACI said it based its revised guidelines on emerging real world evidence and the reality of Canada’s limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines, although there is no research yet on the long-term effect the delay could have on immunity to the coronavirus disease.
The decision was also informed by findings from the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control that determined that one dose of the vaccine was actually more effective than clinical trials had initially shown.
NACI said if second doses were stretched to four months across the country, close to 80 per cent of Canadians over 16 could get at least one shot by the end of June.
But Canada’s chief science adviser, Mona Nemer, has said the decision to delay second doses amounted to a “population level experiment.”
The United Kingdom has delayed second doses by up to three months, but no other country is known to have delayed them by up to four months. Spokespeople from Pfizer and Moderna said they recommend sticking with intervals of three and four weeks for their respective vaccines as studied during clinical trials.
What can Canadians do after being vaccinated?
Many Canadians are wondering what they can do after getting vaccinated and if they can safely see their families, other vaccinated people or generally feel less at risk from COVID-19 after a year under strict public health measures.
But the recommendations still haven’t been updated weeks after the change was made — meaning Canadians could be tempted to make up their own rules in the interim.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidelines on March 8 for fully vaccinated individuals, saying they can safely meet indoors without masks or physically distancing with others who had received both shots.
The CDC also said those who have had both shots can visit with unvaccinated people from a single other household who are at “low risk for severe COVID-19,” as well as skipping quarantine and testing if exposed to COVID-19 without showing symptoms.
But unlike Canada, the U.S. hasn’t delayed second doses by up to four months and answers to those questions have been harder to come by for Canadians weeks after guidelines changed and close to 5 million doses administered.
Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said during a news conference Tuesday that the issue is being actively discussed with the provinces and territories and that while new guidance is coming, the country is in the “early days” of its vaccine coverage.
“For now, the key message is that everyone needs to keep up with their personal protective measures which are wearing a mask, handwashing, watching your distance and avoiding closed, crowded conditions,” she said.
“I think as more and more people get vaccinated I would expect the advice to evolve as we go along, but it’s a little bit too early.”
WATCH | ‘Too early’ to update guidelines for vaccinated Canadians: Tam
Tam said the spread of coronavirus variants across Canada amid already high levels of community transmission should factor into “local decisions” on what public health measures need to be put in place or lifted for vaccinated individuals.
She provided no timeframe for when Canadians can expect to see new guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada on what they can and can’t do after being vaccinated.
Guidelines for Canadians with only one dose even less clear
And what about guidelines for Canadians who have only had one dose?
“It’s maybe not clear to the general public, but it should be clear that you’re only fully vaccinated after two doses,” said Prof. Alyson Kelvin, an assistant professor at Dalhousie University and virologist at the Canadian Center for Vaccinology.
“I can completely sympathize that it’s been a long haul for everybody, but it’s really important that we continue with those public health measures until we have a low level of virus transmission within the community.”
She says until Canada’s hardest-hit regions have significantly lowered their rates of community transmission, Canadians will have to continue practicing physical distancing, proper hand hygiene, avoiding crowds and wearing masks in public.
“You’re still at risk even though you’re fully vaccinated,” says Kelvin, who is also evaluating Canadian vaccines with the VIDO-InterVac lab in Saskatoon.
“Even with two doses, you can still be infected and transmit the virus — you just might not be as ill as somebody who wasn’t vaccinated.”
Until Canada has a large proportion of vaccinated people across the country who can help decrease overall COVID-19 levels, Kelvin says it makes sense for hard-hit regions to hold off on relaxing public health measures.
Dr. Nathan Stall, a geriatrician at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, says communication from public health officials on what people can do after getting a COVID-19 vaccine has been lacking — especially for older Canadians.
“I’ve had patients who have showed up at the vaccination clinic expecting to get their second shot and have been turned away, so they are devastated emotionally, I’ve had people who have found out immediately beforehand,” he said.
“I think their questions are very reasonable, which [are]: ‘Do we have evidence to support this? Am I going to be at higher risk? How does this impact my behavior during the third wave now?'”
WATCH | The science behind delaying the 2nd dose of COVID-19 vaccines
Stall, who is a member of NACI but does not speak on behalf of the committee, said it’s important for public health officials to be transparent about the emerging data on delaying second doses and that the guidelines will likely change.
“I think we need to do a much better job of messaging,” he said. “Because this population [of older seniors] has been living in terrible isolation for a year.”
Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious diseases physician and an associate professor at the University of Alberta, says updated guidelines will likely come in the near future as new data emerges.
She said it was important to note that the recommendations allowed for a maximum interval of up to four months, though the actual interval between doses could be shorter and the guidelines revised if new data showed certain groups were at higher risk.
“So the main thing is to kind of stay light on your feet and make changes that make sense to try to protect everyone the best we can,” she said.
Saxinger said the second dose delay made sense given Canada’s limited vaccine supply, because it allowed for an expanded vaccination rollout and offered protection to a greater number of vulnerable Canadians.
“It really will actually save a great many lives,” she said.
“But if there’s populations where deferring the second dose will actually make them less likely to be immune in the longer term, then obviously that’s a place that has to be readdressed.”
Delta variant of COVID-19 now makes up nearly 4 in 10 cases in B.C., data shows – Global News
New data from the BC Centre for Disease control shows that the highly-transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19 has grown to nearly four in 10 cases in the province, up from fewer than one in 10 just two weeks before.
The data comes as the province reported more than 100 new cases in a 24-hour period for the first time in five weeks.
The BCCDC released the data Friday, which covers the week of July 11 to July 15.
B.C. reports 112 new COVID-19 cases, four new deaths
Out of 376 cases recorded that week, the Delta variant, first identified in India, made up 39 per cent of cases, while the Gamma variant, first identified in Brazil, made up 40 per cent. The Alpha variant, first identified in the U.K., made up 17 per cent of cases.
Last week, the BCCDC reported the Delta variant made up 33 per cent of cases, while the week before it was just eight per cent.
Research has found that the Pfizer and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against the Delta variant, but only when people receive both doses.
Partially vaccinated people remain at a much greater risk of contracting it or becoming seriously ill.
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said Friday that 96 per cent of new cases reported in B.C. between June15 and July 15 were among people who weren’t fully vaccinated.
As of Friday, more than 2.68 million people — 58.1 per cent of those eligible and 52.2 per cent of the population — have been fully vaccinated.
Could Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination drive slowdown fuel another surge?
There were strong regional variances in the prevalence of Delta.
In the Vancouver Island Health Region, all of the 14 cases reported over the week in question were found to be the Delta variant.
In the Interior Health Region, which has seen growing case numbers and lagging vaccination rates, Delta made up a whopping 74 per cent of the 122 cases over the week reported.
More than half of the new cases reported on Friday were in the Interior Health region.
Vancouver Coastal Health had the second highest prevalence of Delta, at 33 per cent, followed by the Fraser Health region at 15 per cent.
Officials said 97 per cent of all samples tested were at least one of the known variants of concern.
The BCCDC cautions that the data reported on Friday is subject to change due to a lag in sequencing some samples.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
COVID-19 in Ottawa: Fast Facts for July 24, 2021 – CTV Edmonton
Good morning. Here is the latest news on COVID-19 and its impact on Ottawa.
- The number of active COVID-19 cases in Ottawa continues to creep up as vaccination slows
- A new outbreak in Barry’s Bay has led to nearly two-dozen close contacts and forced businesses to close
- Ontario reported 192 new cases on Friday as the seven-day average jumped slightly
COVID-19 by the numbers in Ottawa (Ottawa Public Health data):
- New COVID-19 cases: Seven new cases on Friday
- Total COVID-19 cases: 27,768
- COVID-19 cases per 100,000 (previous seven days): 3.9
- Positivity rate in Ottawa: 0.5 per cent (seven day average)
- Reproduction Number: 1.28 (seven day average)
Who should get a test?
Ottawa Public Health says you can get a COVID-19 test at an assessment centre, care clinic, or community testing site if any of the following apply to you:
- You are showing COVID-19 symptoms;
- You have been exposed to a confirmed case of the virus, as informed by Ottawa Public Health or exposure notification through the COVID Alert app;
- You are a resident or work in a setting that has a COVID-19 outbreak, as identified and informed by Ottawa Public Health;
- You are a resident, a worker or a visitor to long-term care, retirement homes, homeless shelters or other congregate settings (for example: group homes, community supported living, disability-specific communities or congregate settings, short-term rehab, hospices and other shelters);
- You are a person who identifies as First Nations, Inuit or Métis;
- You are a person travelling to work in a remote First Nations, Inuit or Métis community;
- You received a preliminary positive result through rapid testing;
- You require testing 72 hours before a scheduled (non-urgent or emergent) surgery (as recommended by your health care provider);
- You are a patient and/or their 1 accompanying escort travelling out of country for medical treatment;
- You are an international student that has passed their 14-day quarantine period;
- You are a farm worker;
- You are an educator who cannot access pharmacy-testing; or
- You are in a targeted testing group as outlined in guidance from the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
Where to get tested for COVID-19 in Ottawa:
There are several sites for COVID-19 testing in Ottawa. To book an appointment, visit https://www.ottawapublichealth.ca/en/shared-content/assessment-centres.aspx
- The Brewer Ottawa Hospital/CHEO Assessment Centre: Open Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- COVID-19 Drive-Thru Assessment Centre at 300 Coventry Road: Open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- The Moodie Care and Testing Centre: Open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- The Ray Friel Care and Testing Centre: Open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- North Grenville COVID-19 Assessment Centre (Kemptville) – 15 Campus Drive: Open Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Centretown Community Health Centre: Open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Sandy Hill Community Health Centre: Open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 pm.
- Somerset West Community Health Centre: Open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Friday
COVID-19 screening tool:
The COVID-19 screening tool for summer camp children and staff. All campers and staff must complete the COVID-19 School and Childcare screening tool daily.
Classic Symptoms: fever, new or worsening cough, shortness of breath
Other symptoms: sore throat, difficulty swallowing, new loss of taste or smell, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, pneumonia, new or unexplained runny nose or nasal congestion
Less common symptoms: unexplained fatigue, muscle aches, headache, delirium, chills, red/inflamed eyes, croup
The number of active COVID-19 cases in Ottawa is back above 40 for the first time in two weeks, as the city’s vaccine administration pace slows down.
Ottawa Public Health reported seven new cases of the virus in Ottawa on Friday. There were no new resolved cases for the second straight day, so the number of active cases has climbed to 41.
It’s the most since July 9, when there were 43 active cases in the city.
A new outbreak of COVID-19 in Barry’s Bay, Ont. has resulted in two closed businesses and nearly two-dozen high-risk contacts.
The Renfrew County health unit is reporting three new confirmed cases that started with a visit from southern Ontario.
Twenty-one high-risk contacts now have to isolate, a fresh example that Canada is not yet out of the pandemic.
Ontario is reporting another jump in the number of new COVID-19 cases as health officials log just over 190 new infections and the seven-day average rises.
The province confirmed 192 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Friday, which comes after officials logged 185 new infections on Thursday.
Before that, the province reported case numbers below the 150 mark for three days.
Canada could avoid the worst of a 4th wave — but we're not out of the woods yet – CBC.ca
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