With a fourth wave looming, chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Thursday (Aug. 5) that she’s remaining focused on getting two vaccine doses into the arms of every eligible Canadian.
“It’s a complex discussion but I think right now… our focus is getting people their first and second dose for everyone who’s eligible,” Tam said, although she acknowledged that the situation could change as different variants, potentially more vaccine resistant, emerge and cases are on the rise across Canada.
“We’ve still got a ways to go and that remains the priority.”
Tam’s words come the day after the World Health Organization called for a moratorium on COVID vaccine booster shots until all countries can get 10 per cent of their population vaccinated.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that although richer countries have administered about 100 vaccine doses per 100 people, poorer nations have only administered about 1.5 doses per 100 people.
Just over 80 per cent of people ages 12 and older have received their first dose in Canada, while second dose immunization rates sit at about 68 per cent.
Tam said that Canada’s approach to booster shots would be “data driven,” and monitor whether current vaccine doses remain effective. Current studies, she said, show at least six months of effectiveness for the COVID vaccines so far.
“We will be looking towards the National Advisory Committee on Immunization and an ongoing discussion with chief medical officers of health on boosters shots.”
However, Tam said that even in provinces like B.C., Alberta and Manitoba, where mask mandates have been lifted, Canadians should do a risk assessment and considering continuing to mask up in crowded indoor spaces, even if they are fully vaccinated.
– with files from The Canadian Press