Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday threatened to re-implement public health measures this winter if enough Canadians don’t get their COVID-19 and flu vaccines.
“If we’re able to get a high enough level of vaccination, it would reduce the danger of needing to take other health measures to make sure we’re all safe and not overloading our hospitals,” Trudeau said at a press conference.
The prime minister was meeting with Ontario Premier Doug Ford to announce a new project from global telecommunications company Nokia. A reporter posed a question to Trudeau about COVID-19 and vaccinations.
“One of things to remember as flu season approaches, is people got to get vaccinated, whether it’s getting the flu vaccine or getting up-to-date on your COVID shots,” Trudeau told reporters.
The prime minister said there are new vaccines that protect against both the original strain of COVID-19 and the newer Omicron strain.
“We encourage everyone to get those vaccinations to keep pressure off of our hospitals, of our front-line heroes who are working so hard to keep people safe, but also keep pressures off of our economy and communities.”
“I look forward to working with premiers like Ford on delivering a strong healthcare system for the future,” he added.
Across the country, hospital emergency departments have been overflowing due to staff shortages. Some hospitals have even had to temporarily close their emergency rooms.
Last week, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said a rise in hospitalizations was making him “anxious that we must continue strengthening that wall of immunity.”
Moore scolded Ontarians for the low rate of uptake for those 70 and older, 16%, which he called “not acceptable.” He urged Ontarians to get vaccinated ahead of what he warned could be a “difficult winter.”
Moore also claimed he wouldn’t hesitate to recommend new COVID-19 masking guidelines if necessary.
“If there’s a threat to our health care system, if we can’t care for Ontarians at the right time, at the right place, I will be speaking to the government and asking that we have a stronger recommendation for masking at a broader level if that occurs and then potentially a requirement.
“But we’re certainly not there yet,” he said.