As another wave of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations rises in parts of Canada, its public health agency is urging young people, a lagging demographic in the country’s vaccination campaign, to roll up their sleeves.
In a new analysis released on Friday, the Public Health Agency of Canada said that there was an “urgent need” to increase vaccinations among Canadians aged 18 to 39 to reduce the risk that hospitals will become overwhelmed. It noted that there was an immediate “window of opportunity” to slow transmissions.
Sixty-eight percent of all Canadians are fully vaccinated, and 75 percent have received at least one dose, according to The New York Times database. By comparison, only 53 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated and 62 percent have received at least one dose.
Among those Canadians eligible for the vaccine, aged 12 and over, 77 percent are fully vaccinated. However, the rate is much lower for people in their 20s and 30s. Health officials say about 63 percent of people aged 18 to 29 have received both doses, while 68 percent of adults in their 30s are fully inoculated.
As it has in other countries, the highly contagious Delta variant has driven up cases and hospitalizations in Canada in recent weeks. On Thursday, the seven-day average of new cases in Canada was 3,489, up 56 percent from two weeks earlier, according to the Times database. Deaths rose 8 percent over the same period.
Hospitalizations were also up 34 percent over the last week and were dominated by unvaccinated patients, the country’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said in a statement.
The upward trend could climb to more than 15,000 cases a day by October if vaccination rates don’t rise, the agency’s modeling showed. But, the increase in cases could also be curbed if other public health measures succeed in reducing transmissions by 25 percent, the agency said.
Some provinces could achieve this by restricting access to a number of public settings to the fully vaccinated. Both Quebec and Manitoba began vaccine passport systems this week, requiring individuals to present an electronic or physical proof of vaccination to enter certain places, including restaurants. British Columbia and Ontario are scheduled to impose similar restrictions later this month.
The Ontario government announced its vaccine passport system on Wednesday. The next day, bookings by people seeking the shots more than doubled, the provincial health minister, Christine Elliott, said on Twitter. “Today, we’re already seeing thousands more Ontarians roll up their sleeves, nearly half of whom are receiving their first dose,” she said.
Other provinces have gone in a different direction.
Alberta, which does not have a vaccine passport system, on Friday reinstated an indoor mask requirement and announced a cash incentive of 100 Canadian dollars on a prepaid debit card for people over 18 who get vaccinated by Oct. 14. The province has also awarded the second of three lottery prizes of one million Canadian dollars each to spur inoculations, and dozens of other smaller prizes. The province has the highest rate of active coronavirus cases in the country, according to national public health data.