Stay the course to benefit from the promise of COVID-19 vaccines

Excerpt: The good news is Canadians began receiving the first two approved COVID-19 vaccines in December. While it’s very encouraging that these vaccines are effective and safe, Public Health experts emphasize people shouldn’t relax personal infection control precautions while waiting to be vaccinated. It’s also essential to follow public health recommendations after being vaccinated for the greatest personal protection against COVID-19 and to protect the health of others.

The good news is Canadians began receiving the first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in mid-December,” CBC News reported. A long term care resident and a personal support worker were among the first Canadians to be vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.* A second COVID-19 vaccine was approved by Health Canada on December 23rd and the first doses of the Moderna vaccine were given to Canadians on December 31st,* according to CTV News.*

This country expects to receive enough vaccine doses for about three million Canadians to get immunized in the first three months of 2021.* The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended to the federal government that people living and working in long term care homes should be among the first* to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.* Several of the leading vaccine candidates also appear to be effective and safe for older adults,* based on clinical trial results to date,* according to The Lancet and CBC.

Don’t relax personal precautions

While it is very encouraging that several COVID-19 vaccines have been approved and will be given to an increasing number of Canadians in the coming months, health experts emphasize that people should not relax personal precautions just because they know they will be receiving the vaccine,* or due to pandemic fatigue.* It is essential to maintain physical distancing, frequent handwashing and wearing face masks when appropriate until vaccines get widely distributed to all Canadians and the level of coronavirus infection in the community becomes much lower or cases are virtually eliminated.*

It's helpful to think of the vaccines as a powerful tool, along with personal infection control precautions, to provide greater protection for you and other people against COVID-19. The combination of an effective vaccine and adherence to these personal safety measures can substantially lower the risk of developing COVID-19, help prevent serious complications if a person become infected, and help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the entire population,* says the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Just as the most effective flu protection for seniors includes getting an influenza shot, along with frequent handwashing, keeping your hands away from your face, and avoiding contact with others who have the flu or flu-like symptoms, the best protection against COVID-19 is to get immunized once vaccines are available and follow other public health recommendations,* says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Be vigilant and hopeful

Now that we know safe, effective vaccines will be available for all Canadians, there are good reasons to be hopeful about eventually bringing the pandemic to an end. To realize that promise and reap the full benefit from COVID-19 vaccines, it’s important to stick with the personal safety precautions needed to keep each other healthy.

*The following sources provide references for this blog, in order of preference:

1. CBC News. “Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on Dec. 14.” (2020),

2. CBC News. “Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines have been approved in Canada. Here’s what you need to know about them.” (2020),

3. CTV News. “First long-term care home residents in Ontario receive Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.” (2020),

4. CBC News. “Seniors, long-term care workers should be first in line for COVID-19 vaccine, committee says.” (2020),

5. CBC News. “AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine shows promise in elderly, trial results expected by Christmas.” (2020), online:

6. CBC News. “What are the side effects of Pfizer’s Moderna’s vaccines? Your questions answered.” (2020), online:

7. Public Health Agency of Canada. “What you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine for Canada.” (2020), online:

8. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “We’ll likely be wearing face masks even after a COVID-19 vaccine rolls out, Dr. Fauci says.” (2020), online:

9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccination.” (2020), online:

10. Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. “Will a COVID-19 vaccine work in people with underlying medical conditions?” (2020), online: