Mass vaccinations not only factor in Canada’s reopening timeline: Tam

OTTAWA — Canada’s chief public health officer says the timing of when Canada will return to some state of normalcy is not solely dependent on the country achieving mass vaccination.

Weighing in on U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s statements that England will move to lift all COVID-19 restrictions by June 21, Dr. Theresa Tam said Canada’s reopening timelines rely on a variety of factors.

She said while vaccinations generally play a “key role,” other indicators include “the actual epidemic curve in terms of where it’s moving, the rates of serious outcomes including ICU admissions, hospitalizations and deaths…and you also want the public health capacity for testing, tracing, contact tracing all to be in place.”

“You can’t put an absolute date on one of these things, but having everybody get the vaccine is a massive step towards returning to a more normal life,” said Tam during a Tuesday press conference.

Canada is expecting a record number of vaccine shipments this week from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna after a notable dip in deliveries. Procurement Minister Anita Anand said that the majority of the 643,000 doses have already been delivered to the provinces and that the government is still aiming for six million shots before the end of March.

“The key is to get the vaccination levels high so that we reduce the chances of those massive upswings in resurgence in order to keep society going,” said Tam.

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc added that ultimately, how and when the easing of restrictions occur is up to the provinces.

“Obviously the decisions in terms of public health measures, lockdowns measurers in Canada are in the hands of provincial authorities. They are assessing on an ongoing basis based on public health they receive,” said LeBlanc on Tuesday.

Some provinces are set to introduce the next phase of their vaccine rollout plan. Quebec will be targeting seniors 85 and over in the general population as early as next week.

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