New recommendations outline who in Canada could get a COVID-19 vaccine first

CTV News | Ryan Flanagan | Nov 5, 2020

og 300x192 - New recommendations outline who in Canada could get a COVID-19 vaccine firstEssential workers and others who face increased risks related to COVID-19 should be vaccinated against the disease before everyone else, according to new recommendations submitted to the federal government.

Although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that all Canadians will be able to get an approved COVID-19 vaccine for free, the immunizations will not happen all at once. It is expected that several months will elapse between the first doses of the vaccine being made available and a full rollout to everyone who wants to be immunized.

This leads to an obvious question: Which Canadians or groups of Canadians should be prioritized? Who should get to move to the front of the line, and who should have to wait?

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The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is a long-established body that makes recommendations to the Public Health Agency of Canada on vaccines and vaccine-related issues. They've weighed in on vaccines covering more than a dozen different diseases over the past decades, and their advice helped create the push to expand human papillomavirus vaccine programs to include boys.

Now they've turned their attention to COVID-19. On Tuesday, they issued their first recommendations on target populations for COVID-19 immunization. NACI recommends prioritizing four specific groups:

  •  'Those at high risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19,' including older populations and other groups to be determined
  •  'Those most likely to transmit COVID-19 to those at high risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 and workers essential to maintaining the COVID-19 response,' including those who live with members of the first group, health-care workers, personal care workers and caregivers who work with seniors
  •  'Those contributing to the maintenance of other essential services for the functioning of society,' including front-line workers such as police officers, firefighters and grocery store staff
  •  'Those whose living or working conditions put them at elevated risk of infection and where infection could have disproportionate consequences, including Indigenous communities,' including those who live or work in settings where it is difficult to distance and where it is difficult to access health care

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The NACI recommends that decisions around who is vaccinated first among the prioritized groups be made based on factors including vaccine supply, COVID-19 conditions in Canada at the time, the results of a risk-benefit analysis, and characteristics of the vaccine itself.

 

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