In this May 25, 2020, file photo, a lab technician extracts a portion of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate during testing at the Chula Vaccine Research Center, run by Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Sakchai Lalit

In this May 25, 2020, file photo, a lab technician extracts a portion of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate during testing at the Chula Vaccine Research Center, run by Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Sakchai Lalit

How many Canadians will need to get vaccinated against COVID-19? Officials aren’t sure

Canada has secured contracts for four potential vaccines

Although Canada has secured four contracts for more 190 million doses of potential COVID-19 vaccines, health officials aren’t sure how many people will need to receive it.

Deputy public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo said Tuesday (Sept. 1) that the level of vaccination to achieve community, or herd, protection varies by the disease.

“That’s still to be determined because the science is not clear on that yet,” Njoo said.

“For a very contagious disease like measles the vaccine uptake needs to be much higher to determine that level of community protection. We don’t know that yet for COVID-19.”

There are currently at least 128,948 total test positive cases of the virus in Canada, with more than 9,100 deaths.

For measles, the Canadian government has a goal of 95 per cent vaccination by 2025. According to John Hopkins University, early estimates of the virus’s infectiousness point to at least 60 to 70 per cent of the population needing to be vaccinated to achieve herd protection. A recent poll suggests that about 14 per cent of Canadians will not get the vaccine altogether, while nearly one-third will adopt a “wait and see” approach.

It’s also unclear how effective an eventual vaccine will be.

“International consensus is that we should at least look at vaccines that are around the 50 per cent vaccine efficacy mark,” chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said, echoing similar statements from other public health researchers.

“This means that an individual who was vaccinated would be 50 per cent less likely to get COVID disease—or whatever the particular endpoint is that’s measured in the trial—than individuals that weren’t vaccinated,” said Dr. Ruth Karron, who leads the Center for Immunization Research at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

But Canadian health officials were sure on one point; going for a herd immunity approach by letting the disease run through the population was not effective. Tam called it an “extremely difficult strategy” because of the potential for exponential growth that could overwhelm health-care systems.

“What we do know that even in the most [COVID-19] affected parts of the world, the level of population immunity seems quite low, so getting high enough vaccine uptake is going to be quite important,” Tam said.

Currently, Canada has agreements with Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, Pfizer and Moderna, if any of the four companies develop an effective vaccine. Any vaccine will have to be approved by Health Canada before Canadians can get it.

READ MORE: Canada signs deals with two suppliers for potential COVID-19 vaccines

READ MORE: 30% of British Columbians would ‘wait and see’ before taking COVID vaccine: poll


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirusvaccines

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

LMS Heritage vessel, the Kirkegaard takes to the waters of Ladysmith harbour. (Bob Burgess photo)
LMS volunteers complete restoration of Kirkegaard heritage boat

The restoration took nearly five years and over 7,500 hours to complete

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district teachers’ union, and its counterparts from Mount Arrowsmith district, seek stricter COVID-19 rules. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith teachers’ union asks for stricter COVID-19 measures

Teachers ask for vaccine, more online learning, mask mandate for primary students

Red Seal Chef and Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Christina Acevedo’s new book Two Little F Words hopes to inspire readers to eat healthier diets. (Submitted photo)
Local nutritionist’s book aims to promote health through feasting, fasting, and a whole food diet

Christina Acevedo was inspired to write Two Little F Words after her mother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
Island Health seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

VIHA says Chakalaka Bar and Grill also violating water and sewer regulations with RV hook-ups

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

A teacher-librarian in Nanaimo was fired in 2019 for checking out an age-inappropriate graphic novel to a student. The discipline agreement was published Wednesday, April 21. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo teacher-librarian fired for checking out too-graphic graphic novel to student

Teacher had been previously disciplined and suspended on two occasions

Aria Pendak Jefferson cuddles ChiChi, the family cat that ran away two years ago in Ucluelet. The feline was missing until Courtney Johnson and Barry Edge discovered her in the parking lot of the Canadian Princess earlier this month. Aria and her parents were reunited with ChiChi in a parking lot in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
An Island girl’s wish is answered as her cat came back

Courtenay family reunited with cat that went missing in Ucluelet in 2019

Vancouver Island Connector and Tofino Bus is putting a 41-passenger electric bus through its paces in a three-month trial run between Nanaimo and Victoria. (Photo submitted)
Electric bus on trial run serving Victoria-to-Nanaimo route

Vancouver Island Connector and Tofino Bus trying out 41-seat electric coach for three months

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
“I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident tries to save vehicle from the Columbia River

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, walks down the street with an acquaintance after leaving B.C. Supreme Court during a lunch break at her extradition hearing, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, April 1, 2021. A judge is scheduled to release her decision today on a request to delay the final leg of hearings in Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam
B.C. judge grants Meng Wanzhou’s request to delay extradition hearings

Lawyers for Canada’s attorney general had argued there is no justification to delay proceedings in the case

B.C. Premier John Horgan announces travel restrictions between the province’s regional health authorities at the legislature, April 19, 2021. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sees 862 more COVID-19 cases Wednesday, seven deaths

Recreational travel restrictions set to begin Friday

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson is photographed following her budget speech in the legislative assembly at the provincial legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. budget lacks innovative drive, vision during uncertain times, say experts

Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s budget sets out to spend $8.7 billion over three years on infrastructure

Most Read