Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL

Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

Canada’s chief public health officer is urging residents to keep up public health measures even as vaccines are rolled out across the country.

Dr. Theresa Tam compared the fight against COVID-19 to a marathon, not a sprint, and said that while Pfizer and Moderna vaccines give reasons for optimism, infections rates are still high across Canada. Tam’s words come as Canada has recorded at least 742,531 COVID-19 cases and 18,974 deaths.

“Now is the time to strengthen our resolve, regroup and make sure that we have the stamina to keep our pace and make it across the finish line,” Tam said in a statement issued Sunday (Jan. 24).

Even people who have been vaccinated – about 776,606 vaccines have been administered as of Saturday, equating to roughly two per cent of Canada’s population – are being asked to continue wearing a mask and adhering to physical distancing measures.

“We are still learning about the role of vaccines in preventing transmission of the virus. While current data indicates that the COVID-19 vaccines prevent people from getting sick with COVID-19, researchers are continuing to study whether or not they also prevent people from spreading the virus to others,” Tam said.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, while more effective than many hoped in the early days of the pandemic, are still only 94 to 95 per cent effective, meaning that between five to six per cent of people may still get COVID-19 even after vaccination. And while research has suggested that even the first dose of the vaccines offers good protection, it takes up to 14 days after the second dose – given three or more weeks after the first – to develop the maximum amount of immunity.

READ MORE: B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April


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katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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