The government is in the process of coming up with a new definition for “fully vaccinated,” Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos says.
Duclos said the government is “transitioning” to a new approach, though was scant on details about when a change will be coming.
Citing Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam, Duclos said that “although two doses still protects significantly well against severe disease and death, two doses are not enough now to protect against infection and transmission.”
Cabinet ministers discussed their intentions to change the definition Tuesday while announcing the end of federal vaccine mandates for domestic and outbound fights, trains as well as for civil servants.
The controversial mandates that have been in place since Oct. 2021 will end Monday, Jun. 20.
“That is why we are transitioning now to an ‘up-to-date’ vaccination definition of what it means to be adequately protected against COVID-19.”
Duclos added that he will be working closely with provinces and territories in the coming weeks and months to significantly increase the booster uptake, adding that the “rate of boosters in Canada is too low.”
As of May 30, 55.50% of Canadians aged 12 and older have received third doses of Covid-19 vaccines, while approximately 35% of those over the age of 70 have gotten fourth shots.
Tam previously told parliament that two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine offered only 20% protection against the Omicron variant, while three doses offered 60% protection.
She also told the media last Friday that she had recommended that language used to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations rely on “up to date” vaccine regimens rather than a set number of doses.
“(A) mandate is a policy decision that takes into account many different factors and it’s up to the policymakers at this time to make that difficult decision. But I would always be going with recommending ‘up to date,’” said Tam.
While the federal vaccine mandates are ending next week, the Trudeau government said Tuesday that they would be re-implemented in the future if necessary. The government also said future vaccine mandates would rely on an up-to-date definition of “fully vaccinated”.
“With what Dr. Tam said last Friday, it would not be possible to return to a two-dose (vaccine) mandate… measures would have to rely on, starting now, a vaccination definition that is up-to-date,” said Duclos in French.
European countries have already changed their definition of “fully vaccinated” to include booster doses. After making the change, governments invalidated the vaccine passports of eligible double-vaccinated citizens who had refused to take a booster shot.