People who are at a higher risk of severe COVID-19 include individuals with poor immune function due to underlying medical conditions or due to immune-suppressant medications. In these populations, risk mitigation measures against COVID-19 are particularly important.
Older Canadians have shouldered a disproportionately heavy burden of severe illness and death during the COVID-19 pandemic. As of September 16th, 2022, people over age 70 have accounted for 82% of all deaths, 35% of all intensive care admissions, and 50% of all hospital admissions due to SARS-CoV-2 infection in Canada.
Pregnant people are at an increased risk of adverse effects from SARS-CoV-2 infection (the infection that causes COVID-19 disease) and are more likely to be admitted to an intensive care unit compared to non-pregnant individuals (1-4). Overall, people with COVID-19 who are pregnant are 2.65 times more likely to require hospitalization and 5.46 times more likely to be admitted to ICU than non-pregnant individuals with COVID-19 (4). COVID-19 has also been associated with increased risks of preeclampsia, preterm birth, and other adverse pregnancy outcomes (5). Thus, vaccination is an important tool for ensuring a healthy pregnancy.
As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves and new variants of SARS-CoV-2 emerge, incidents of breakthrough infections among vaccinated individuals and reinfections among previously infected individuals have risen worldwide.
As of April 26, 2022, more than 3.7 million SARS-CoV-2 infections and approximately 38,847 COVID-19-related deaths have been reported in Canada. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends COVID-19 vaccinations for all Canadians over the age of 5, including those who have been previously infected.
Earlier SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern such as Alpha, Beta, and Gamma did not lead to significant upticks in pediatric hospitalizations. However, the rise of the highly transmissible Delta and Omicron variants, coupled with the loosening of public health restrictions and the vaccination of adolescents and adults, have since altered that reality.
While most people infected with SARS-CoV-2 recover within 2-4 weeks with limited complications, some adults and children continue to face persistent symptoms long after the initial infection.
With the arrival of Omicron and the looming threat of other emerging variants of concern, the crucial question on everyone’s mind is: how long does immunity to SARS-CoV-2 last? The evidence will be essential to plan for, and mitigate, future waves of infection and keep the population safe.
As a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is now available for school-aged children, it is important to reflect on the multiple streams of benefits arising from their rapid roll-out. Successful immunization campaigns protect children from severe disease, help lower community transmission of the virus, allow the re-establishment of social networks, see the continuance of in-class schooling, and permit the full resumption of extra-curricular activities.
In this Canadian study published in JAMA, researchers wanted to know if the type of information provided about a vaccine could affect people’s likelihood of accepting it.