As Canada approaches its COVID-19 vaccination target for a “better” summer, the country’s chief public health officer is looking ahead at vaccine benchmarks for fall.
“Every week we’re getting closer to our initial target of 75 per cent of eligible Canadians getting their 1st dose of protection, and 20 per cent of those fully vaccinated, summer will be better,” Dr. Theresa Tam tweeted on Saturday.
According to a CBC News tally, the figures currently stand at 65 per cent and roughly seven per cent, respectively, as of Friday.
With the country approaching its summer target, Tam offered vaccination hope for a “safer fall.”
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“The target of at least 75 per cent of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated is needed to protect health system capacity, but it should not be our ultimate goal,” she said. “We can do better than that and should keep going and shoot for the stars!”
Tam pointed to several demographics in Canada that have already reached that mark, including in the territories, some Indigenous communities and Canadians over the age of 70.
Tam has previously said full two-dose vaccinations are important in the fight against coronavirus variants of concern that are taking hold in several provinces across the country, especially the Delta strain.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday that large shipments of vaccines will continue through the summer, with more than two million Pfizer-BioNTech doses expected each week until the end of August.
Trudeau said nine million Pfizer doses will arrive in July, with another 9.1 million expected in August. He added that Canada has also negotiated an option for three million more Pfizer doses to be delivered in September.
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Trudeau said he’s been encouraged by the country’s vaccine rollout, adding that Canadians have “reason to be hopeful about this summer and fall.”
“The more people vaccinated, the safer we all are … so let’s start looking forward to more of what we love, from camping to dinner with friends,” he said.
What’s happening across Canada
As of 6:30 p.m. ET Saturday, Canada had reported 1,391,174 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 25,339 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 25,712.
In British Columbia, more than 72 per cent of adults and nearly 70 per cent of people over the age of 12 in the province have now received their first vaccine shot.
In Alberta, which reported 293 new infections and three related deaths on Saturday, the Alberta Health Services (AHS) says it has physically closed a Calgary church and would prevent access to the building until the church’s pastor, Tim Stephens, could “demonstrate the ability to comply with these restrictions.”
Fairview Baptist Church has repeatedly defied the province’s pandemic restrictions — garnering 57 complaints, according to the AHS — and Stephens has previously been arrested for organizing church services against public health orders.
Saskatchewan recorded 99 new cases and three related deaths.
Over the past week, the percentage of residents who are fully vaccinated has jumped from six per cent to 9.8 per cent, but the province still needs a significant number of people to get their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before the government can lift all remaining restrictions.
Approximately 724,000 people in Saskatchewan need to get a first dose to reach the 70 per cent point for the 12 and over population — a threshold imposed by Premier Scott Moe. As of Friday, more than 657,000 people had received a first dose.
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Manitoba logged 276 new cases and an additional death.
There are now 333 Manitobans hospitalized after getting COVID-19, including 102 in intensive care units.
Sixty-three of those patients are still in hospitals across the province, while another 39 are in ICUs outside Manitoba; according to the province, 36 are in Ontario, one is in Saskatchewan and two inare Alberta.
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Ontario registered 744 new cases and 24 more deaths.
Starting on Monday, residents 70 or older, as well as anyone who received a first shot of Pfizer or Moderna on or before April 18th, will be able to book their second shot through the provincial booking system.
More vaccine supply is expected to arrive in the coming months, and the province says it could further accelerate the immunization schedule.
Quebec confirmed 228 new cases and four new deaths on Saturday.
Marguerite Blais, the province’s seniors ministers, said Saturday that all residents of Quebec’s senior care system are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The announcement came a day after Blais said that, as of Monday, fully vaccinated residents of care centres can gather without masks, and all residents living in green zones of the province’s COVID-19 response plan will be able to receive up to nine visitors indoors or outdoors.
Also starting Monday, people in Montreal and Laval will join much of the rest of the province in being able to go to gyms and eat in restaurant dining rooms.
New Brunswick‘s vaccination rate continues to increase, but the province is still far from meeting its goals for reopening.
On Saturday, Public Health reported that 475,353, or 68.5 per cent, of eligible residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, but more than 44,000 people need to be vaccinated by Monday at midnight before the next stage of reopening can begin.
The province also tallied nine new cases on Saturday.
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Prince Edward Island has now administered more than 100,000 vaccine doses.
Marion Dowling, P.E.I.’s chief of nursing, says Island vaccine rates are on target, with 60 per cent of its targeted population 12 and over having received at least one dose.
Nova Scotia reported 18 more infections on Saturday.
Starting Tuesday, incoming passengers at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport will be encouraged to take a voluntary rapid test.
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Newfoundland and Labrador identified five cases as the province continues to monitor clusters in the Lewisporte and Stephenville and Bay St. George areas.
Nunavut‘s chief public health officer, Dr. Michael Patterson, says there will be an announcement next week on new rules for COVID-19-affected communities and an update on the territory’s southern-based isolation hubs.
The Northwest Territories will release its new “Emerging Wisely” reopening plan on Wednesday, health officials told MLAs.
What’s happening around the world
As of Saturday, more than 172.6 million cases of COVID-19 had been recorded around the world, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tool. The reported global death toll stood at more than 3.7 million.
In Africa, Tanzania said embassies and international agencies can import vaccines to inoculate their citizens and staff.
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In Asia, Myanmar has been reporting record coronavirus deaths since health services and testing collapsed in the wake of the Feb. 1 coup.
In Europe, Belgium cleared the way for indoor dining and drinking next week as an acceleration of vaccinations reduced strain on hospitals.
In the Americas, Mexican officials said they will use one million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from the United States to inoculate people along the border.