With the number of Canadians fully vaccinated and ready for a two-dose summer increasing every day, many are starting to wonder what exactly this means.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued clear guidelines on what people who have received both injections can do safely, but public health officials in that country have yet to release what be it that offers a similar track record.
It’s a situation, some experts say, that leaves a void for individuals to set their own (potentially flawed) rules.
“People just want to know, what should I do and when should I do it? Said Maria Sundaram, postdoctoral fellow at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, noting that the changing and complex advice throughout the pandemic has been difficult for the public to follow.
It is crucial to ensure that counseling does not make people who have not yet received a second dose feel like they are being punished, given the current challenges with access, she added. .
Thousands of Ontarians, for example, became eligible to increase their second doses Monday in Delta Variant hotspots including Toronto and Peel.
But there was social media reports long waits with the online reservation system and frustration with the lack of appointments. There are still many who are not even eligible for their second dose yet, and about 25 percent of adults in the province have still not received a first vaccine.
However, said Sundaram, “it helps to show people” that vaccines are “our way back to the world we lived in before” December 2019.
More than 4.5 million people, or about 12% of the Canadian population, have now received both doses of a COVID vaccine, according to the Star’s tally. Almost 13 percent of Ontarians are fully immunized.
According to the most recent data from Toronto Public Health, about 16% of the city’s residents have had both injections.
In the United States, where more people have already received both doses, the CDC provided clear advice on its website on “how to protect yourself and others” after “you have been fully immunized.”
The agency says that two weeks after the second dose, giving the body time to develop antibodies against the disease, individuals can resume activities they did before the pandemic without wearing a mask or moving away physically. This includes meeting indoors with a small group of people from multiple households, going to an exercise class, or eating at an indoor restaurant or bar.
Toronto Public Health has addressed questions about these guidelines to the province.
Alexandra Hilkene, spokesperson for Health Minister Christine Elliott, said in an email that the province’s chief medical officer of health “is actively consulting with public health experts and others” on potential advice that takes context into account unique Ontario and reopening plan.
“Just as the CDC has issued guidelines in the United States, we continue to urge Health Canada and PHAC (the Public Health Agency of Canada) to issue guidelines for fully vaccinated people,” he said. -she adds.
“As we make great strides in deploying our vaccine, we must all remain vigilant and continue to follow current public health advice and measures. “
Last week, the federal government announced that fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents will soon be able to bypass hotel quarantine upon their return home.
But Health Canada has yet to comment, for example, if fully vaccinated people can gather inside for a small dinner with a few other fully vaccinated friends.
Asked about specific guidelines, a spokesperson for Health Canada cited the April 23 modeling by Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam, which has now been updated to include all 12 people. years and older, which indicates that COVID restrictions may begin to lift depending on local disease burden and vaccine coverage (if 75 percent of people eligible for vaccines have one dose and 20 percent have one second).
“People across Canada are encouraged to continue to follow the advice of their local public health authority, as provincial and territorial governments continue to make decisions about when to relax or reinstate public health measures in the country. their communities, ”added the spokesperson.
Dr Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at the University Health Network and a member of the province’s vaccine task force, said it would be “inappropriate and unethical” for experts and individual physicians to give advice. advice on what people can and cannot do with two doses.
“It has to come from the top management of public health,” he said.
In the meantime, some people will do whatever they want, as they have done throughout the pandemic.
“But there is also a huge segment of the population who are really hungry for advice and will turn to advice on how to behave. That’s who it’s for, ”Bogoch said.
“Without it, a lot of people will go their own way and do what they see fit. “
Dr Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious disease physician at Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga, said it is less helpful to tell individuals to abstain from activities altogether than to offer them strategies to manage risk and ‘give empower people, empower them to make their own decisions. ”
The CDC’s advice would be easily adaptable to the Canadian context, he said.
It also signals a video from France, and one more local of This is Our Shot Canada, a collaborative campaign to get people to roll up their sleeves, showing people who can resume normal lives once they are fully vaccinated, as good examples of clear and positive communication around vaccines which is necessary.
These types of messages would also make people want to receive both snaps, he said.
“These vaccines are really amazing,” added Chakrabarti.
“And I think they’re constantly under-sold. “