Health · January 8, 2021

Canada News: Chief Public Health Officer on COVID-19

(STL.News) There have been over 635,000 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 16,579 deaths and over 80,250 active cases across the country.  Nationally, the average case count is at 7,672 new cases being reported daily over the past week and the number of people experiencing severe illness continues to increase.  There are an average of 4,336 individuals with COVID-19 being treated in Canadian hospitals, over 800 of whom are in critical care, and 136 deaths are being reported each day.  Canada continues to monitor for virus variants that may be associated with an increased risk of spread; to date, there have been 14 cases of a variant virus first reported in the UK [ON 6; AB 4; BC 3; QC 1] and no reports of other variants of concern, including none of a variant first reported in South Africa.

As the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines proceeds across Canada – including during this initial phase to protect those at highest risk of severe outcomes or exposure – keeping Canadians up-to-date with timely, factual information is a top priority.  The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is working closely with provinces, territories, Health Canada regulators and other federal jurisdictions to collect information on COVID-19 and safety.  Starting today, this information will be posted on Canada.ca and updated weekly on Friday afternoons.  The weekly COVID-19 vaccine safety report will include information on adverse events following immunization (AEFI), which involve any health problem that happens following immunization but is not necessarily caused by the vaccine.  Adverse events can range from common mild events such as soreness at the site of injection or a slight fever, to more rare serious events, such as a severe allergic reaction.  Canada has a robust vaccine safety monitoring system in place and all serious events will be investigated.  As of January 1st, there have been over 115,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered across Canada, with 9 adverse events reported.  There have been no vaccine safety issues identified to date.

As with any new undertaking, we all have questions.  These weekly reports on COVID-19 vaccine safety aim to provide Canadians with regular access to credible information that will assist them in making informed and confident decisions on vaccination for themselves and their families.  As always, I call on healthcare providers to listen to Canadians’ questions and concerns and to encourage ongoing dialogue to further support vaccine confidence.

The progress we have made across Canada and around the world on vaccines is inspirational, but everything we’ve achieved is the result of consistent, persistent and collective efforts – we’ve worked hard and we’ve kept up the pace!  Though I know we are all eagerly awaiting more hopeful days ahead, we’ve still got a ways to go.

We all need to maintain core public health practices – washing, masking, and spacing away any and all opportunities for COVID-19 to spread.  As we wait for our place in the vaccine queue, let’s continue to support those who need to be protected most urgently and do our part to help all those working to make vaccines available for all Canadians in the months ahead.

Read my backgrounder to access more COVID-19 Information and Resources on ways to reduce the risks and protect yourself and others.