Workers unload a shipment of the Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine at the FedEx hub at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Thursday, May 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

Workers unload a shipment of the Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine at the FedEx hub at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Thursday, May 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

Canada’s 50% vaccine milestone a psychological boost to keep going: experts

An increase in Canada’s vaccine supply pushed the national rollout from sluggish to supersonic

Raywat Deonandan is feeling more hopeful these days, and he’s noticed a renewed optimism in many of his epidemiology and infectious disease colleagues.

After months of observing negative COVID-19 trends, Deonandan is “filled with joy” to see cases, hospitalizations and deaths declining in most of Canada while vaccination rates climb to new heights.

Canada’s rollout reacheda major milestone on Saturday with 50 per cent of its overall populationat least partially inoculated, though 58 per cent of the country’s adult population had received at least one dose as of Friday.

The 50-per cent marker won’t have immediate impact on plans to re-open services or lift public health restrictions, but Deonandan says it signifies a new, more encouraging era of the pandemic in Canada.

And the psychological impact of that can’t be ignored.

“It is a milestone,” the epidemiologist with the University of Ottawa said. “It’s like: Hey, we as a society have passed an important point in this marathon and we can almost see the finish line.

“And even though we’re all tired, we’re going to sprint to the end together.”

An increase in Canada’s vaccine supply pushed the national rollout from sluggish to supersonic over April and May, with a rolling average of more than 370,000doses administered per day last week.

That, coupled with an apparent willingness from Canadians to get their jabs — some have lined up for hours in rain or snow outside pop-up clinics — has Deonandan hopeful for what the summer could look like.

“It means people want to get out of this, and they want to do their part to get out of it,” he said. “So I’m very optimistic and I think a lot of scientists watching the numbers are optimistic as well.”

The immunization drive has helped decrease transmission, Deonandan says, but lockdown measures and restrictions have played a key role as well.

And while optimism is warranted, experts add caution is required in this in-between phase while half of Canada’s residents still aren’t protected from COVID-19.

Health Canada has said it would like to see at least 75 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12-years-old and up — vaccinated with one dose and 20 per cent fully inoculated before measures are relaxed. Less than five per cent of Canadians had received both shots as of Friday.

Deonandan says vaccination numbers alone won’t dictate when to re-open. Case numbers, hospital and intensive care admissions, test-positivity ratios and the reproduction rate (how many people one positive case is expected to infect) all need to drop.

Keith Dobson, a psychology professor at the University of Calgary, says Canada’s rollout has increased his optimism that life within the country could return to relative normalcy soon. But there’s work yet to be done.

Dobson says reaching the 50 per cent threshold is psychologically similar to getting a second wind after the midway point of a race, or noticing positive changes in your body after working out for months.

“We know from studies of human behaviour that as people get closer to a goal, typically their energy goes up, and that’s what we’re seeing,” Dobson said. “The key, of course, is not to burn out before you get there. So we need to keep working hard to achieve our goal.”

READ MORE: NACI recommends same vaccine for 2nd dose; more data on mixing in mRNA vaccines coming

Some countries are closer to their targets than others.

The United Kingdom, which had 55 per cent of its residents at least partially vaccinated as of Thursday, is set to relax more restrictions next week, including allowing small indoor gatherings of up to six people between two households.

The United States, meanwhile, recently released guidance for fully vaccinated individuals that included relaxed mask policies in some indoor areas. While the U.S.’s overall vaccination rate is now slightly lower than Canada’s, a higher percentage of Americans are fully immunized.

Deonandan says the epidemiological trends around the globe offer a model for what’s to come.

“It means (vaccination) works. We’re on that path to be those countries,” he said.

Steve Joordens, a psychology expert with the University of Toronto, says vaccines have renewed hope for many.

Still, Joordens says, it might be difficult for some to be optimistic after experiencing cycling periods of lockdowns and surging COVID-19 numbers over the last 15 months. The potential threat of new vaccine-resistant variants is another anxiety-provoking unknown, he adds.

But with vaccines reaching more individuals daily, Joordens says the present situation feels different than past waves. And he senses a level of cohesion among people not seen since the early days of the pandemic.

“This (50 per cent milestone) is an important number because it’s like: ‘OK, there’s more than half of us now,’” Joordens said. “The majority of us are marching the same way.

“So it does kind of give us a sense of how well the team is working to defeat this virus.”

Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirusvaccines

Just Posted

An example of what a mural would look like on the back wall on Ron’s Bait and Tackle Store which faces the courtyard and sidewall. The mural photos shown here are mock-ups of existing artwork on walls of interest in the downtown core to build anticipation within the community about the concept of murals. The KPAA will not necessarily be using these locations or this artwork for the actual murals. (KPAA photo)
Kitimat Public Art Alliance mural funding request denied

D’Andrea suggested she will come back to the council at a later date with a more concrete plan

L-R: Vanessa Cuoto, Montana Murray, Connor Best, Dawn Best, Natalia Lopez, Thomas Walton, and Charlotte Collier partaking in the clean-up Kitimat campaign on May 28. (Katie Peacock photo)
Kitimat’s MStar Hotel brings out staff’s competitive clean-up side

The hotel staff circulated the Big Spruce Trailhead and picked up as much garbage as they could

Kitimat’s Water Quality Advisory, which has been in place for just over a week, has been lifted. (Black Press file photo)
Water Quality Advisory in Kitimat lifted

The district has been under a Water Quality Advisory since June 2

On June 16 at 6 p.m., the Kitimat Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a public presentation and discussion with Happipad, a social enterprise, to talk about solutions for affordable housing Kitimat. (Happipad photo)
Affordable housing to be focus of Kitimat Chamber of Commerce meeting

Figures indicate the average Kitimat household needs to make more than $92,000 a year

(District of Kitimat logo)
Hirsch Creek Bridge restricted to single lane traffic

The district is restricting the bridge traffic to legal highway loads only

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials watching U.K.’s Delta variant struggles, ‘may need to slow’ plan going forward

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

Announcement applies to all individuals of First Nations, Inuit and Métis background

Most Read