The transition would discard the concept of being “fully vaccinated” and replace it with “up-to-date” vaccination status.
The federal government is ready to reinstate COVID-19 vaccine mandates this autumn should the epidemiological situation deteriorate, federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said on Tuesday, and this time the mandatory minimum number of inoculations could be three or even four doses.
“The keyword today is ‘transition’,” Duclos told reporters during a press conference to announce that vaccine passports would no longer be required for travellers and federal employees.
The minister said the transition would discard the concept of being “fully vaccinated” and replace it with “up-to-date” vaccination status.
“Two doses are no longer sufficient to protect against infections and transmission, and that’s why we’re making a transition to an up-to-date definition of vaccination,” he said. “An up-to-date vaccination status for the vast majority of Quebecers is a three-dose vaccination. For some Quebecers, it’s four doses.”
The change of position comes after chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam told reporters on Friday that multiple studies concluded that after six months, two doses of vaccine had a “very weak” effectiveness against the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Tam said the initial 50 per cent to 80 per cent effectiveness offered by two doses dropped to 20 per cent, adding that a third dose restored effectiveness to 50 per cent or 60 per cent.
Duclos said the number of Canadians having received at least one booster shot was “too low,” noting that rate was lower than that “of all other G7 nations.”
Ottawa intends to work “closely” with the provinces and territories to increase the number of triple-dosed Canadians to prepare “for what night happen this autumn.”
While 90.2 per cent of Canadian adults are double vaccinated, only 58.5 per cent have received a third dose.
“We have to increase that (rate) significantly,” Duclos said. “At least to the level we had over the past few months for second doses.”
Duclos’s comments drew sharp criticism on Wednesday from Conservative Party of Quebec leader Éric Duhaime, who tweeted that if Premier François Legault was so fond of picking fights with Ottawa, “Let him get up this morning and say ‘NO NEVER’ to the Trudeau government’s idea of obliging a third dose this autumn.
“For the Conservative Party of Quebec vaccination, is a personal choice that must be respected. Enough of dividing Quebec society in two. We never want to relive the nightmare of the past two years.”