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Vaccination and Vaccine Hesitancy in Canada

Vaccination is the introduction of a vaccine into the body to produce immunity to a disease. Vaccine hesitancy is the refusal or delayed acceptance of vaccination due to fears or anxiety about vaccines. It includes a range of concerns such as uncertainty about vaccines’ contents and their safety and the belief that vaccines are responsible for causing other medical conditions (e.g., autism). Other factors include opposition to state control and infringement on individual liberty, suspicions about the pharmaceutical industry and a declining faith in science and medicine. In Canada, as in other wealthy countries, vaccine hesitancy has increased in recent years.

Article

COVID-19 Pandemic in Canada

COVID-19 is a severe acute respiratory syndrome caused by a new type of coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, that emerged in 2019. The virus caused the first cases in China and then quickly spread around the world. As of early March 2022, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused more than 434 million confirmed cases and 5.9 million deaths globally, including over 3.2 million cases and 36,000 deaths in Canada. It is one of the deadliest pandemics in world history and among the most disruptive and transformative on many levels, especially economically and socially.

Article

H1N1 Flu of 2009 in Canada

From April to December 2009, Canada experienced an outbreak of influenza A (H1N1). The virus began in North America and spread to many other countries in a global pandemic. This new type of flu differed from the typical seasonal flu, and its effects were more severe. Worldwide, more than 18,000 people are confirmed to have died of H1N1, including 428 Canadians. Estimates based on statistical models have put global deaths much higher. Totals may have been in the hundreds of thousands. The H1N1 pandemic tested Canada’s improvements to its public health system after the SARS outbreak of 2003. On the whole, it revealed a more efficient, coordinated response.

Click here for definitions of key terms used in this article.

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Saskatchewan’s Health Care System on Brink of Collapse

Two and a half months after lifting all public health restrictions, Saskatchewan‘s health care system was being overwhelmed as cases of COVID-19 swamped ICUs. Elective surgeries were being cancelled and organ transplants were delayed as paramedics often had to wait as long as 17 hours to admit patients to hospitals that were already full. Hospitalized cases of COVID-19 had doubled in the last month in the province, which had one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.

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Provinces Reinstate Public Restrictions amid Omicron Surge

Provinces and territories across the country reintroduced capacity limits and other public health measures to try to curb the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Though a fully vaccinated person had 70 per cent protection against symptomatic infection from the Delta variant, that protection fell to only 30 per cent with Omicron. Quebec reported a new single-day record of 4,571 infections.

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Ontario Pauses Use of AstraZeneca Vaccine

Ontario announced that it would be pausing the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine due to concerns over a rare but potentially fatal blood clotting disorder caused by the vaccine. As of 8 May, more than 900,000 shots of the vaccine had been given in the province. There had been eight cases of the disorder in Ontario and at least four more in the rest of the country. Three people had died.

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Alberta Announces New COVID-19 Policies

Though there had been a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases in Alberta since the province lifted most public health restrictions on 1 July, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, announced a further loosening of restrictions. With 65 per cent of eligible Albertans fully vaccinated against COVID-19, health minister Tyler Shandro said that lifting many remaining restrictions was “the inevitable next step.” However, many were critical of the move. Noel Gibney, a professor emeritus at the University of Alberta, said that it went “against all basic principles of public health” and made “absolutely no medical sense.”

Article

Canada and the Development of the Polio Vaccine

During the first half of the 20th century, poliomyelitis, a.k.a. polio or “The Crippler,” hit Canada harder than anywhere else. Successive polio epidemics peaked in a national crisis in 1953. By that time, however, scientists at Connaught Medical Research Laboratories of the University of Toronto had made key discoveries that enabled American medical researcher and virologist Jonas Salk to prepare the first polio vaccine. Connaught Labs also solved the problem of producing the vaccine on a large scale. Canada went on to play an important role in the development of the oral polio vaccine and international efforts to eradicate the disease.

Click here for definitions of key terms used in this article.

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Alberta Declares State of Emergency Due to COVID Spread

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With more than 18,000 active COVID-19 cases — the most of any province — Alberta premier Jason Kenney declared a state of public health emergency. The number of ICU admissions (212) set a pandemic record in Canada. About 90 per cent of ICU patients were unvaccinated. By 30 September, the province had 247 COVID cases in ICU. It then began to receive emergency medical staff from the Red Cross, the Canadian Armed Forces, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

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Quebec Announces Plan to Tax Unvaccinated Adults

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One day after Quebec’s public health chief resigned, Quebec premier François Legault announced that his government intended to impose a “significant” tax on the roughly 10 per cent of Quebecers who refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19. However, after preparing the bill, Legault announced on 1 February, amid mounting opposition, that the bill would scrapped.

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“Freedom Convoy” Arrives in Ottawa and Begins Occupation of Capital

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Convoys of truckers, which had been making their way to Ottawa from Western and Eastern Canada, finally arrived in Canada’s capital to protest public health mandates and restrictions. The convoys were cheered by supporters across the country, many of whom greeted them along highway overpasses. However, the protest’s stated goal of unseating Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and overthrowing the government left many Canadians uneasy and brought to mind the insurrection at the US Capitol on 6 January 2021 — as did the presence of Confederate and Nazi flags among the protesters. With 85 per cent of Canadians vaccinated, including about 90 per cent of all truckers, the protest was seen as a far-right fringe movement. Observers noted that online rhetoric surrounding the protest had grown “increasingly worrisome.” Similar Freedom Convoy protests formed blockades at a border crossing in Coutts, Alberta, and at the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit, Michigan, on 29 January and 7 February, respectively.