The COVID-19 vaccine rollout has resulted in a drop in the number of infections in people over the age of 80, Canada’s chief public health officer said Sunday as several provinces prepared to further expand their immunization rollouts.
Dr. Theresa Tam said on Twitter that the reduction in cases among older adults, along with fewer outbreaks in long-term care settings, “reassure us that vaccines will bring more (and) greater benefits in the weeks to come.”
Her statement came as several provinces prepared to expand their immunization campaigns in the coming days.
Ontario is lowering the age of eligibility for shots in the general population from 80 to 75 on Monday, while New Brunswick is stepping up a program to vaccinate high school teachers.
It’s expected that 4,500 staff from high schools provincewide will receive a first dose at a clinic in one of 16 locations, the New Brunswick government said.
Quebec, meanwhile, is expected to begin giving vaccines to people 65 and up in Montreal-area pharmacies on Monday, one week after the provincial booking system opened for reservations.
Despite the positive vaccine news, Tam sounded a note of caution over case counts, which are back on the rise after declining earlier this year.
She said infection rates are highest among those aged 20 to 39, who are less likely to get seriously ill but who can spread the virus, including the more transmissible variants, which are gaining steam across the country.
“Circulation of COVID-19 in younger, more mobile and socially connected adults presents an ongoing risk for spread into high-risk populations and settings,” she said in a statement.
“The emergence and spread of certain SARS-CoV-2 virus variants heightens this concern.”
The highest case count on Sunday was in Ontario, which reported 1,791 new COVID-19 infections, and 18 added deaths related to the virus.