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A brighter summer with more vaccinations

     Theresa Tam
 
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, speaking at a 2019 World Health Assembly event in Geneva. (The Canadian Encyclopedia)

As Manitoba endures some of its highest daily COVID-19 case numbers of the pandemic – 587 cases on May 12 – a surge in vaccinations raises hope for some relief this summer.

Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, announced on May 14 that Canadians who have been vaccinated with one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine can socialize with close family and friends outdoors over the summer months. However, that will depend on at least 75 per cent of all adults having had one vaccine dose and 20 per cent being fully vaccinated.

As of May 14, only 50 per cent of Canadian adults have had one shot and only 3.6 per cent are fully vaccinated. Virtually all Canadians will have access to their first vaccine dose by June. Manitoba has now extended vaccine eligibility to children as young as 12 years old with the Pfizer vaccine.

Dr. Tam said a more social summer will depend on Canadians staying apart for the rest of the spring. Canadians must continue to avoid indoor gatherings until more people are fully vaccinated and even partially vaccinated people should stay away from others for the next few weeks – and wearing masks in public will continue for the foreseeable future.

“I think masks might be the last layer of that multi-layer protection that we will advise people to remove,” said Tam.

On the bright side, Canada’s vaccination campaign will get a welcome boost this week when Pfizer delivers more vaccine doses than originally planned.

Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said a total of 4.5 million mRNA shots – 3.4 million from Pfizer and 1.1 million from Moderna – are expected to arrive before the Victoria Day long weekend.

“We are continuing negotiations with our suppliers to accelerate deliveries so that the provinces and territories can get vaccines into the arms of Canadians as rapidly as possible,” Anand said.

Canada received 665,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine on May 13. Dr Tam said those shots will probably be allocated for people whose first dose was also the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Many provinces have suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine because of the risk of vaccine-induced blood clots in a small proportion of recipients.

“I think obviously there may be fewer people who would take up the AstraZeneca vaccine as the second dose but it is important to still have that option right now,” she said.

People living in Manitoba can book a COVID-19 vaccination appointment through ProtectMB.ca or call 1-844-MAN-VACC (1-844-626-8222). Eligible Manitobans can begin booking second-dose Pfizer and Moderna appointments on May 22.