WATERLOO, ONTARIO – Experts say Canada’s demand for COVID-19 vaccines is slowly dropping, and they warn those waiting to see whether cases spike before getting their jabs are wasting time the body needs to build sufficient immunity.
Less than one per cent of Canadians were vaccinated per day over the last week, a decrease from the record-high daily rate of 1.44 at the end of June, according to Our World in Data.
A drop is to be expected since 80 per cent of the eligible population already has at least one dose and close to 60 per cent are fully vaccinated.
But Kelly Grindrod, a pharmacy professor at the University of Waterloo, says a slowing rate is concerning, and the spread of new variants means more Canadians need to be fully protected to mitigate future outbreaks.
“A lot of us really are anticipating a fourth wave looking at other countries around the world, the UK, the Netherlands, places that are seeing waves come up even with high vaccine rates,” she says.
“We fully expect something like that here in Canada as well, probably by very late summer or early fall. But by the time that happens with Delta [variant], people need to be vaccinated six weeks before that.”
Some Canadians are holding off on booking first-dose appointments altogether, while others delay second doses because they don’t want to mix mRNA products.
Grindrod says we’re in a “difficult stage of apathy, where people don’t think they’re at risk,” and they’re putting off getting vaccinated.
She says concern over mixing Pfizer and Moderna shots appears to be driving some hesitancy, though experts have repeatedly said the two mRNA jabs are interchangeable.
On Tuesday, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health said the province is trying to find ways to encourage those that have yet to receive a vaccine to do so sooner than later.
Dr. Kieran Moore says incentives, such as proof of vaccination in the form of a passport, will not be offered to increase vaccine uptake, adding that there is still time for the province to make progress.
“Certainly I’d love Ontario to have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world,” Dr. Kieran Moore said.
“The modelling, though, tells us that once we’re at around 90 per cent of the population immunized, eligible population immunized, that the risk of Delta, which is much more infectious than the other strains, will be less for us.”