Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread and reduce the impact of infectious diseases, whether it’s seasonal flu or childhood infections. A safe and effective vaccine(s) for COVID-19 will protect us against the novel coronavirus and will be an important step to safely resume normal life in Canada and around the world. The Government of Canada is working on all possible fronts to secure access to safe and effective vaccines and related supplies for Canadians. Here is what Canadians need to know about a future COVID-19 vaccine.
Only vaccines that are safe and effective will be approved for use in Canada. Canada is recognized around the world for its high standards for drug and vaccine review, approvals and monitoring systems; these will not be compromised. The Government of Canada has gained real-time access to manufacturer clinical trial data for the most promising vaccine candidates, and is working with the global regulatory community to make sure COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective before regularity approval is granted.
A vaccine will be available to everyone. Because of the unprecedented global funding and collaboration, more than 150 vaccine candidates are being researched around the world at this time. The Government of Canada is investing in made-in-Canada research and has already made advanced purchase agreements of many hundreds of millions of doses of the most promising vaccine candidates from around the world. This will give Canadians access to safe and effective vaccines as soon as they are ready. Not all vaccines will make it past the finish line, so that’s why we are purchasing in advance a number of the most promising vaccine candidates. Health Canada is focusing on reviewing and approving COVID-19 vaccines as quickly as possible, while ensuring that they are well-studied and safe.
Because there will be limited quantities at first, once a vaccine is approved for use, key populations will need to be prioritized. We expect to have a limited supply of just a few million doses in the early weeks and months once Health Canada approves a vaccine(s) for use in Canada. That means governments will work together and continue to seek input from independent experts, like the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), to make decisions about how to prioritize vaccination. This will allow us to make the most impact by protecting high-risk populations and those who help keep our pandemic response, society and economy running. When there are enough vaccine(s) available, the vaccination program will be expanded.
Building up immunity takes time. One dose of vaccine may not be enough to provide individual protection. You may need to get a second shot to allow your body to develop adequate immunity. We don’t yet know what level of immunity in the population is sufficient to achieve community immunity. Until that time, Canadians should continue to wash their hands, stay home when sick, maintain physical distancing, wear a face mask as appropriate, and keep using good cough and surface hygiene.
COVID-19 vaccines will be free. As more vaccines are made and distributed, the Government of Canada expect to be able to offer free vaccination to every Canadian who wants one. The Government of Canada know that we live in a global community, so they have committed to making sure low and middle-income economies around the world will also have access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine(s). Until we’re all protected, we’re still at risk of a resurgence of illness from COVID-19.
Vaccination is a choice you should make to protect yourself, your family and community. Vaccination is a personal choice that the vast majority of Canadians agree is part of good health and important for prevention of serious disease.
The Government of Canada is committed to working with Canadians and keeping you informed. Things are bound to change, and so too will our approaches. The Government of Canada will rely on Canada’s well-established public health system, the expertise and insights of researchers, health professionals, industry, community leaders and Indigenous knowledge to guide us through this journey to bringing Canadians a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. You can stay up to date by visiting Canada.ca/coronavirus and trusting credible sources of information.
We can all do our part in preventing the spread of COVID-19. For more information, visit Canada.ca/coronavirus or contact 1-833-784-4397