Canada is slowing down on first doses, but that could be a good thing

The plain truth is we're running out of arms that haven't already had needles jabbed into them, and Round 2 is full swing The post Canada is slowing down on first doses, but that could be a good thing appeared first on Macleans.ca.

Canada is slowing down on first doses, but that could be a good thing

Even as Canada sets records for its vaccination effort, which now averages 420,000 shots a day, the rate of first doses is dropping. So while 120,000 first doses were administered on Sunday, that’s well short of the more than 300,000 a day given out a month ago. And that fall is being seen across the country.

When New Brunswick unveiled its reopening plan in late May, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard would begin on June 7. That step depended on achieving one big goal: getting first doses of COVID-19 vaccine into at least 75 per cent of eligible residents. “I looked at it, and said, “Maybe,” recallsa Halifax-based epidemiologist who publishes extensive threads on Twitter featuring vaccine and pandemic graphics. “The closer they got to that deadline, it went from plausible to ‘technically within the laws of physics’ that it could happen,” he says. New Brunswick missed the deadline, and is expected to hit that 75 per cent metric on Monday, a week behind schedule. 

Right now, most of Atlantic Canada is focused on getting first doses into arms, Wilson explains. “We want to run up the score on first doses as much as possible, then switch to second doses,” he says. The strategy, which takes advantage of the region’s low COVID-19 case count, means that its provinces are starting to in terms of first doses. Yet, even on the East Coast, it’s taking longer to hit that next first-dose benchmark.

Source: Trevor Tombe

Source: Trevor Tombe

 

The nation’s first-dose slowdown is not only expected, but also a good signal. To put it bluntly: Canada’s first-dose strategy is such a success—we are No. 1 among all OECD nations in terms of first doses—that we’re running out of arms in which to jab needles full of vaccine. 

“We’re getting to the point where first doses are no longer a success metric because you can’t move the needle anymore,” Wilson says. After using first doses as the main metric in his daily vaccine graphics for the past four months, he’s going to change to second doses in the next few weeks for a simple reason:  “No one will be meaningfully trying to max out their first doses because we’ll have functionally maxxed them out.”

Overall, have gotten at least one dose, according to data crunched by Trevor Tombe, an economist at the University of Calgary who has become the go-to source for vaccine data in Canada. When he built for each province, he put in a ceiling of 85 per cent of eligible populations getting first doses based on polling data, and, as of now, his forecasts show most provinces going above 80 per cent this summer, with Quebec likely to hit 85 per cent. 

When looking at who haven’t yet gotten vaccinated, the range goes from a low of 19.5 per cent of Quebec’s eligible population to a high of 28.7 per cent of eligible people in Prince Edward Island (the territorial share ranges from 15.5 per cent in Yukon to 28.7 per cent in Nunavut). 

New reports that 89 per cent of Canadians either have gotten or will get vaccinated, though an from mid-May puts that number at 82 per cent. Both polls suggest that around 10 per cent of Canadians don’t want to be vaccinated, period. Subtract that figure from those who still haven’t gotten doses, and the shrunken size of the remaining pool becomes evident, ranging from less than 10 per cent in Quebec to perhaps more than 15 per cent in Prince Edward Island. 

That last cohort of first-dose candidates includes “many who are intensely not interested,” Wilson notes, with some still undecided about whether to get immunized, and others who aren’t seeking appointments. “That last 10 per cent or so will be more challenging than the first 75 per cent in most provinces,” he says. He wants governments to do “whatever dumb gimmick you can come up with to say, ‘Hey lot of people here, want a COVID vaccine?’ ” As other nations have shown, nothing should be off the table, including taking vans loaded with vaccine to workplaces; lotteries for those already immunized; free tickets to sports events or even “shots for shots” nights at bars. “Put the elbow grease into it and get those people vaccinated,” he says. 

Some of those inducements are already being rolled out as provinces struggle to meet first-dose benchmarks. While many provinces are experiencing a slower pace of first-dose vaccinations, Tombe notes that the trend is particularly noticeable in Alberta and Saskatchewan, whose declines in uptake began before they reached the higher first-dose shares of other provinces. 

Alberta needs 70 per cent of eligible residents to get first doses before it moves. With the province giving out fewer first doses per capita than any other province except Saskatchewan, and , the government decided not to take a chance that it would miss that goal: over the weekend, Premier Jason Kenney announced a lottery—three winners each of $1 million—for everyone who has first shots. “We need to just nudge those who haven’t gotten around to getting their vaccines yet,” . “Please do your part, because now a vaccine shot is also your shot at $1 million.”

Even as the number of first doses decrease, second doses are surging. Last week, the federal government announced that seven million Moderna doses would be arriving this month, part of the 20 million expected in June alone. The new Moderna shipment “will not likely have an effect on the timing of the first dose milestones I’m projecting,” Tombe says, “but will absolutely move forward the fully vaccinated milestones. It looks like we may very well achieve 75 per cent of eligible individuals with their second shot in July. That’s incredibly good news.”

 

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Canada is holding a national summit on Islamophobia. Will it kick-start real change?

OTTAWA—Ahead of an impending summit to fight Islamophobia, the head of the National Council for Canadian Muslims wants one thing to be clear: politicians in attendance must go beyond rehashing the messages of hope and sorrow the Muslim community has heard before. “What we need to be clear about is that the summit is not a conference,” executive director Mustafa Farooq told the Star. “The summit is really where we’re figuring out and negotiating out timetables for action.”On Friday, MPs unanimously adopted a non-binding motion calling for Ottawa to “convene an Emergency National Action Summit on Islamophobia” before the end of July. A date for the gathering has not been set, but some agenda items are already taking shape.“It’s going to be about taking action on things like appointing a special envoy on Islamophobia, action on potentially introducing new legislation for dismantling white supremacist groups,” Farooq said. A lengthy list of Muslim and human rights groups backed the initial call for the event, also appealing to other levels of government to fold anti-Islamophobia education into school curriculums, end discriminatory legislation and develop new approaches to tackling street harassment. The push for the summit first came from the London Muslim Mosque, which was attended by the family killed last week in what police have labelled a hate-motivated attack. The man accused of killing four members of the Afzaal family and injuring a nine-year-old boy is now facing charges of terrorism.“The measure of whether governments actually stand by their words…in the aftermath of the London terror attack, will very much be whether the recommendations of the summit are actually put into place and passed into law in an expedient and short time frame,” Farooq said.While leaders of Muslim organizations have a distinct vision of what they want to get out of the event, it’s less obvious how governments at any level will convince the Muslim community that this time, their promises come with teeth.Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland didn’t answer Monday when asked whether the Liberal government was prepared to set aside new funds to tackle Islamophobia.“The federal government has already invested in the fight against Islamophobia and against white supremacism,” Freeland said. “Clearly, there is a lot more work to do. And we’re going to continue to do that work.”NDP diversity critic Lindsay Mathyssen, the MP who brought forward last week’s motion, said “the will of the people” injects a different sense of urgency into the summit.“Governments need to recognize that it’s the people that give them that power, and that it’s their responsibility to disseminate that power and ensure that people share in it,” she said.In a statement to the Star, the office of Diversity and Inclusion Minister Bardish Chagger wrote that details on the event are still being finalized “as we take a whole-of-government approach to ensure that the summit offers meaningful opportunity for Muslim communities to set out concrete actions that our government can take to combat Islamophobia.”Chagger’s office cited Ottawa’s recent work to declare a national day of remembrance for the 2017 Quebec City mosque shooting and a federal budget pledge to help places of worship beef up their security infrastructure as further evidence of progress. The federal government has yet to introduce promised legislation that would address and remove hate speech online. Preparations for the summit, however, come as another Conservative MP has apologized for his stance on issues that stoked fear about the Muslim community. “Years ago, as the Minister of State for Multiculturalism, I was the spokesperson for a bill to ban the niqab...while taking the oath of citizenship,” Edmonton Mills MP Tim Uppal wrote in a Facebook post Sunday.After the federal Conservatives lost the 2015 election, Uppal said, he began talking to more Canadians outside the “partisan political bubble”. “It was through these conversations that I really understood how this ban and other campaign announcements during the 2015 election alienated Muslim Canadians and contributed to the growing problem of Islamophobia in Canada,” Uppal said, likely referring to his party’s campaign vow to establish a “barbaric cultural practices” tip line.Uppal’s remarks come nearly one week after Tory health critic Michelle Rempel Garner also expressed regret over her silence on the niqab ban and RCMP tip line. The Calgary Nose Hill MP apologized, assuring the Muslim community that she would not “make the same mistake again.”In a news conference Monday, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said he was “proud” of his MPs for reaching out and “trying to build trust” with the Muslim community.Farooq called the pair of apologies “important and significant”, hoping that they signal change even beyond party lines. “We hope that the commitment to avoid dog whistling, baiting, xenophobic kinds of policies from any political party will be somet

Canada is holding a national summit on Islamophobia. Will it kick-start real change?

OTTAWA—Ahead of an impending summit to fight Islamophobia, the head of the National Council for Canadian Muslims wants one thing to be clear: politicians in attendance must go beyond rehashing the messages of hope and sorrow the Muslim community has heard before.

“What we need to be clear about is that the summit is not a conference,” executive director Mustafa Farooq told the Star. “The summit is really where we’re figuring out and negotiating out timetables for action.”

On Friday, MPs unanimously adopted a non-binding motion calling for Ottawa to “convene an Emergency National Action Summit on Islamophobia” before the end of July.

A date for the gathering has not been set, but some agenda items are already taking shape.

“It’s going to be about taking action on things like appointing a special envoy on Islamophobia, action on potentially introducing new legislation for dismantling white supremacist groups,” Farooq said.

A lengthy list of Muslim and human rights groups backed the initial call for the event, also appealing to other levels of government to fold anti-Islamophobia education into school curriculums, end discriminatory legislation and develop new approaches to tackling street harassment.

The push for the summit first came from the London Muslim Mosque, which was attended by the family killed last week in what police have labelled a hate-motivated attack.

The man accused of killing four members of the Afzaal family and injuring a nine-year-old boy is now facing charges of terrorism.

“The measure of whether governments actually stand by their words…in the aftermath of the London terror attack, will very much be whether the recommendations of the summit are actually put into place and passed into law in an expedient and short time frame,” Farooq said.

While leaders of Muslim organizations have a distinct vision of what they want to get out of the event, it’s less obvious how governments at any level will convince the Muslim community that this time, their promises come with teeth.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland didn’t answer Monday when asked whether the Liberal government was prepared to set aside new funds to tackle Islamophobia.

“The federal government has already invested in the fight against Islamophobia and against white supremacism,” Freeland said. “Clearly, there is a lot more work to do. And we’re going to continue to do that work.”

NDP diversity critic Lindsay Mathyssen, the MP who brought forward last week’s motion, said “the will of the people” injects a different sense of urgency into the summit.

“Governments need to recognize that it’s the people that give them that power, and that it’s their responsibility to disseminate that power and ensure that people share in it,” she said.

In a statement to the Star, the office of Diversity and Inclusion Minister Bardish Chagger wrote that details on the event are still being finalized “as we take a whole-of-government approach to ensure that the summit offers meaningful opportunity for Muslim communities to set out concrete actions that our government can take to combat Islamophobia.”

Chagger’s office cited Ottawa’s recent work to declare a national day of remembrance for the 2017 Quebec City mosque shooting and a federal budget pledge to help places of worship beef up their security infrastructure as further evidence of progress.

The federal government has yet to introduce promised legislation that would address and remove hate speech online.

Preparations for the summit, however, come as another Conservative MP has apologized for his stance on issues that stoked fear about the Muslim community.

“Years ago, as the Minister of State for Multiculturalism, I was the spokesperson for a bill to ban the niqab...while taking the oath of citizenship,” Edmonton Mills MP Tim Uppal wrote in a Facebook post Sunday.

After the federal Conservatives lost the 2015 election, Uppal said, he began talking to more Canadians outside the “partisan political bubble”.

“It was through these conversations that I really understood how this ban and other campaign announcements during the 2015 election alienated Muslim Canadians and contributed to the growing problem of Islamophobia in Canada,” Uppal said, likely referring to his party’s campaign vow to establish a “barbaric cultural practices” tip line.

Uppal’s remarks come nearly one week after Tory health critic Michelle Rempel Garner also expressed regret over her silence on the niqab ban and RCMP tip line. The Calgary Nose Hill MP apologized, assuring the Muslim community that she would not “make the same mistake again.”

In a news conference Monday, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said he was “proud” of his MPs for reaching out and “trying to build trust” with the Muslim community.

Farooq called the pair of apologies “important and significant”, hoping that they signal change even beyond party lines.

“We hope that the commitment to avoid dog whistling, baiting, xenophobic kinds of policies from any political party will be something that all parties commit to every single day, forever. There cannot be a place in Canada for that.”

Raisa Patel is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @R_SPatel

Source : Toronto Star More   

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