Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination rate continues to rise – when will it stall? – National – –

Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination rate continues to rise – when will it stall? – National – –

Canada has one of the highest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the world, with 63% of the population having received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the website.

But already, there are signs that upward progress could slow in some places, and health officials are urging Canadians to keep the momentum going.

“The first 60, 70 percent might be easier to administer the vaccine [to]. We have seen this experience in other countries, ”Dr. Howard Njoo, deputy chief public health officer for Canada, said at a press conference on Friday.

“I hope that in Canada we are not going to follow the other countries where they were able to immunize quickly enough, the 60, 70% of the population – and then they started to level off. “

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Canada has been doing well so far, said Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Alberta.

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“The actual daily number of vaccine doses relative to the population rate in Canada is among the highest at this time. And it doesn’t seem to be really slowing down, ”she said.

However, she doesn’t think the current pace will last forever.

“We expect there to be a cap. “

In general, Canadians seem quite willing to be vaccinated. A Statistics Canada survey released in March found that 77% of Canadians were “very or somewhat willing” to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. A May poll conducted by Ipsos for Global News found that eight in 10 Canadians would take a COVID-19 vaccine “as soon as possible.”

However, Alberta already appears to see fewer appointments for the first dose. While 68% of eligible Albertans received at least one dose of vaccine, across the province, more than 3,800 vaccine appointments were not filled at Alberta Health Services (AHS) sites Tuesday, according to the health authority.

“The demand for the first dose is slowing,” Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Thursday. “The complete opening of our province is in the hands of Albertans.

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Dr. Cora Constantinescu, pediatrician and infectious disease specialist at the Alberta Children’s Hospital and clinical assistant professor at the University of Calgary, believes convenience and accessibility are important factors some Albertans have yet to see. rolled up their sleeves.

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“When you see this kind of approach where city dwellers are much more involved than rural areas, you have to think that there must be an access problem,” she said.

There are many reasons people might not get vaccinated, said Scott Halperin, director of the Canadian Center for Vaccinology. Convenience is one, he said, and complacency is another.

“There are people who just forget, you know, they’re complacent. They just don’t think about it, ”he said.

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Constantinescu believes the vaccination campaign may become “a victim of its own success,” noting that people are motivated by the perceived danger of catching the virus.

“These were people who maybe weren’t totally enthusiastic about getting the vaccine, but they want so badly to get back to normal, they want their kids to go back to school to be ready to do it.” She said. .

But as the province opens up and life begins to return to normal, she said, “We see some of that motivation being lost.”

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Barriers also exist, whether they relate to language or in communities that “are not necessarily well run by the health system,” said Halperin, including people who feel they have been treated poorly in the past. because of their race or religion.

Then there are those who are hesitant about the vaccine. Janessa Griffith, a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto and a researcher at Women’s College Hospital, recently studied Twitter conversations about the COVID-19 vaccine. She found that people were hesitant about the vaccine for a variety of reasons.

“So these were concerns about security, political or economic skepticism, misunderstandings of information, as well as confusing messages from authority figures,” she said.

Public health advocates need to tackle all of these reasons why people don’t get vaccinated separately, Halperin said.

“We have to have a lot of solutions,” he said. “As we approach these higher absorption levels, the next thousand people we immunize will be more difficult than the previous thousand because we come to people who have more and more reasons why, or multiple reasons. for which they may not be vaccinated. And we have to deal with them all. “

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Constantinescu warns that health officials must also push and remind people to receive both doses of the vaccine, not just one.

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Historically, adults have struggled to follow a full cycle of vaccines against other diseases, she noted. She stressed the importance of fully protecting yourself against COVID-19 – especially since a single dose of the vaccine is not as effective as two in protecting against the new Delta variant.

“So a dose gives you some personal protection. It’s much better than not having a vaccine, ”she said. “But you don’t have the same variation protection. You don’t have lasting immunity.

“I think if you don’t have two doses and we don’t hit that high number of two doses, we’re going to be looking at more waves, more restrictions, more fires that need to be put out in the fall. “

Halperin, however, remains optimistic about Canada’s progress.

“The sky is the limit,” when it comes to vaccine coverage, he said.

“I mean, when we look at some of the rates in some provinces for populations that were first immunized, like people over 65, we’re above 90 percent for some of those cohorts. So why not be able to achieve this goal in the younger cohorts as well? “

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Saxinger is a little less optimistic, estimating that vaccinations could stagnate around 85% coverage, although she warns that there will be a lot of variability within that, with some communities having much higher participation rates. that others.

Getting people vaccinated is “crucial” to getting back to a more normal life, she said.

“I think a lot of what we would like to see in terms of interactivity, in terms of travel, is based on high vaccination rates in communities and also globally. “

– With files from Nicole Gibillini and Emily Mertz, Global News

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