Omicron variant, a ‘game-changer’ has forced Canada to re-examine its vaccine mandates: Theresa Tam

Theresa Tam. Credit: Twitter handle

Ottawa/CMEDIA: Canada’s public health officials are reviewing all of the vaccine mandates that require all federal public servants, workers in federally regulated industries and the transportation sector, and members of the traveling public to get their COVID-19 shots if they want to go to work, fly on a plane, or travel by train, said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer at a press conference with reporters on Friday.

“The Treasury Board is actively examining all these policies,” Tam said, referring to the branch of government that is nominally the employer of all federal civil servants.

“I think the federal government has taken a very precautionary, thoughtful approach. They’re looking at a phased approach of removing some of these policies. I know these policies are being reviewed and re-examined as we speak.”

All federal vaccine mandates are under review, Tam said because according to science primary series of the COVID-19 vaccine — the first two doses — offers very little protection against the Omicron variant.

Contrary to the initial thoughts of the scientists and vaccine developers, said Tam that those first two shots would reduce transmission of the COVID-19 virus have been upended by the emergence of new variants with different characteristics.

“The game changer has been an Omicron variant, which is a vaccine-escape variant…You really need a third dose to provide augmentation against transmission. All that should be taken into account as the federal government looks at the policies going forward,” said Tam in the news conference.

Boosters are critically important now, Tam says, and added more people over the age of 50 need to get the booster to make Canada’s public health system more resilient as governments begin to lift COVID-19-related measures, such as limits on social gatherings and mask mandates.

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