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First-dose COVID-19 vaccinations may not be enough to fully re-open, says Tam

Last Updated Apr 21, 2021 at 5:45 pm MDT


Dr. Theresa Tam says hospitalizations, ICU admissions have risen week over week

Tam suggests second doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be key to easing restrictions

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – As provincial COVID-19 numbers fluctuate day to day, the trend is still heading in the wrong direction.

Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam says week over week, hospitalizations and ICU admissions have risen 24 and 21 per cent respectively, while we have seen an additional 46 deaths related to COVID-19.

She says it’s important to focus on getting Canadians vaccinated, suggesting getting first doses into arms may not be enough to fully re-open.

“Getting that second dose is very important to ensure that when we relax measures, you’re not back to the beginning of trying to get the virus under control,” she said.

Tam says we should be careful not to ease restrictions too quickly, noting that’s what happened just before the third wave.

There has also been a lot of discussions around travel restrictions, given India is seeing a devastating wave of infections and deaths.

Tam says there is a public health risk assessment underway on the situation in India, but did not say when it will be complete.

Wednesday’s briefing came after a news conference Tuesday from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), in which the AstraZeneca vaccine was expected to be discussed, was abruptly postponed.

Tam still expects NACI to update its guidance soon.

“It’s because they received some new data they thought was pertinent, in terms of analyzing the impacts of COVID-19 on the population, in light of variants of concern,” Tam said.

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Provinces like B.C., Ontario, and Alberta have already lowered the minimum age to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine to 40. NACI still recommends it for people aged 55 and older due to concerns about very rare blood clots, however Health Canada has approved it for all adults.

Meantime, Canada’s top doctor is commending volunteer community groups for helping people navigate the vaccine-booking process.

Dr. Tam began today’s news conference by noting it’s National Volunteer Week, then praised those behind the website VaccineHunters.ca.

“This community group has banded together to supplement COVID-19 vaccination initiatives by aggregating up to date information on vaccine availability on its website and social media platforms,” said Tam.

“They are helping eligible Canadians find vaccination clinics and pharmacies where they can book an appointment.”

Tam also noted the country has surpassed the milestone of administering 10-million doses of vaccine, though she admits there’s still a long way to go.