OTTAWA, ON , Jan. 28, 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to create stress and anxiety for many Canadians, particularly those who do not have ready access to their regular support networks. Through the Wellness Together Canada online portal, people of all ages across the country can access immediate, free and confidential mental health and substance use supports, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. PocketWell, a free companion app to the WTC online portal, provides another way to help Canadians access online mental health and substance use resources, and measure and track aspects of their mental well-being.
/CNW/ - This week, Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) updated guidance on mRNA vaccination for children aged 5-11 years on Tuesday, and for adolescents aged 12 to 17 years, today. Although, children and adolescents remain at low risk of severe outcomes compared to older individuals, substantially higher rates of Omicron infection have resulted in greater numbers of children with COVID-19 requiring hospitalization than previously. Hence, NACI's latest advice underscores important opportunities for enhancing protection in these age groups. Specifically, for those without contraindications to the vaccines:
NACI now strongly recommends that children aged 5 to 11 years receive a complete two-dose primary series of the Pfizer 10 mcg pediatric mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, with at least 8 weeks between the 1st and 2nd dose, while also recommending a 3rd dose for moderately to severely immunocompromised children in this age group.
For adolescents aged 12 to 17 years, NACI continues to strongly recommend a complete primary series of authorised mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, including a 3rd dose for those who are moderately to severely immunocompromised.
In addition, for adolescents who are at high risk due to biological and/or social risk factors, NACI now recommends that a booster dose of an authorized mRNA COVID-19 vaccine may be offered at least 6 months after the completion of a primary COVID-19 vaccine series.
Up-to-date vaccination continues to be recommended for all eligible people, to provide better protection from severe outcomes, including due to Omicron. This includes a complete primary series of authorised COVID-19 vaccines and, as eligible, a booster dose of either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna SpikeVax mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. This is particularly important for parents, guardians and close contacts, to help protect children and adolescents who can't be vaccinated or have conditions that place them at risk for severe outcomes.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) continues to monitor COVID-19 epidemiological indicators to quickly detect, understand and communicate emerging issues of concern. The following is a brief summary with the latest national numbers and trends.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 2,998,329 cases of COVID-19 and 33,373 deaths reported in Canada. These cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date, while the number of active cases, now at 232,728, and 7-day moving averages indicate current disease activity and severity trends. As very high infection rates continue to challenge or exceed testing capacity, reported case numbers underestimate the true number infections. Hence, a range of other indicators, from laboratory test positivity to daily numbers of people in hospitals and critical care continue to be important for monitoring trends.
Although daily reported cases remain at record high levels, multiple indicators suggest infections have peaked at the national level, including daily case counts, test positivity, Rt (or effective reproduction number), and wastewater surveillance trends. During the latest 7 day period (Jan 21-27, 2022), an average of 18,497 new cases were reported daily across Canada. While this is a 28% decrease compared to the week prior, infection rates remain elevated and continue to increase in some jurisdictions. Laboratories across Canada continue to test at a very high level. During the latest 7-day period (Jan 19-25, 2022), laboratory test positivity was 19%, indicating continued widespread community transmission.
The ongoing high volume of cases is placing a heavy strain on the healthcare system, both because of increased hospital admissions as well as high numbers of illness and need for isolation among health care workers. The latest provincial and territorial data show that an average of 10,766 people with COVID-19 were being treated in hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Jan 21-27, 2022), which is 7% higher than last week and exceeds all previous peaks. This includes, on average, 1,216 people who were being treated in intensive care units (ICU) daily, which is 6% higher than last week and an average of 164 deaths were reported daily (Jan 21-27, 2022). Keeping infection rates down remains key to mitigating the rise in severe illness trends as much as possible over the coming weeks.
Immunization for all those who are eligible, but are yet to receive their primary series, remains a top priority. As of January 27, 2022, provinces and territories have administered over 76 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. The latest provincial and territorial data indicate that over 78% of the total population are now fully vaccinated. Age-specific vaccine coverage data, as of January 22, 2022, show that over 88% of people 12 years or older have at least one dose and over 83% are fully vaccinated. Among children aged 5-11 years of age, who have more recently become eligible for vaccination, 53% have at least one dose.
All told, over 6.3 million eligible Canadians need one or more doses to complete their primary series and many others are eligible to get a booster dose to help improve protection that may have decreased since their second dose. Moreover, there is accumulating evidence that a booster dose results in better protection against severe illness from Omicron. As of January 27, over 14 million third doses have been administered to date. National data as of January 22, 2022 indicate that 75%-77% of seniors aged 70 years or older and 50%-64% of 50-69 year olds have received an additional dose.
While COVID-19 is still circulating in Canada and internationally, a vaccines plus approach continues to be essential to the pandemic response in Canada. This includes layering vaccination with timed and targeted public health measures and individual protective practices. In particular, properly wearing a well-fitted and well-constructed face mask when with others outside of your immediate household, avoiding crowding, and getting the best ventilation possible in indoor spaces, are layers of protection that can reduce your risk in all settings. Canadians are advised to avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada at this time; if you must travel, be aware of requirements for visiting other countries and for returning to Canada.
We can also stay healthier during the winter respiratory season by getting up-to-date with other recommended vaccines, such as influenza and routine vaccines for children and adults. For additional information regarding vaccination in your area, reach out to your local public health authorities, healthcare provider, or other trusted and credible sources, such as Immunize.ca and Canada.ca, which includes information to help Canadians understand the benefits of being vaccinated against COVID-19.
Canadians can also go the extra mile by sharing credible information on COVID-19 risks and prevention practices and measures to reduce COVID-19 in communities. Read my backgrounder to access more COVID-19 Information and Resources on ways to reduce the risks and protect yourself and others, including information on COVID-19 vaccination.
SOURCE Public Health Agency of Canada
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