Sask. reopening plan could be 'carrot' to prompt vaccinations, expert says
SASKATOON -- Public health officials say if 75 per cent of eligible Canadians have had one dose and 20 per cent have had their second dose, this summer could be filled with camping, picnics and patios.
While crowds are still to be avoided and guidelines are cautious, epidemiologist Nazeem Muhajarine says the province is on the right track.
“It’s not only the vaccine rollout, but our numbers are trending down, it’s steadily going down,” Muhajarine told CTV News.
However, he adds that the vaccine incentive could go either way in terms of pushing people to roll up their sleeves in order to meet the target.
“If they’re hesitating a bit this could be a carrot you know that could prompt them to get that first shot.”
Or they might thank everybody else who got their first dose and feel like they might not need to anymore, he adds.
Muhajarine says the province’s three-step reopening plan does fall in line with the newly released guidelines which could be a sign of hope.
“I think we are sort of setting the trend here, a good trend, a downward trend, a flattening trend that other provinces and the rest of Canada will follow as well.”
On Thursday the Centers For Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that those who are fully vaccinated would no longer have to wear masks indoors or outdoors.
University of Saskatchewan epidemiologist Cory Neudorf says while two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will help reduce symptoms, hospitalizations and spreading the disease, it’s unclear whether a person who is vaccinated but has COVID-19 could still spread it.
“What we want to avoid for the first while especially, is people who are immunized feel that they’re therefore safe and not masking, going out in public and perhaps being unaware that they’re spreading the disease to others who have not been immunized yet,” Neudorf told CTV News.
He says we will have an “overlap for a while” of people who are fully immunized, partially or not at all and people will have to keep wearing their masks during that time.
In the province’s reopening plan, it isn’t until Step Three when guidance on indoor masks will be developed based on the progress of the first two steps.
In the meantime, the province-wide masking mandate will remain in place.
Neudorf says once people are vaccinated and COVID cases become “really really low,” people can be more confident to not wear masks in indoor spaces.
“What you need to do is make sure that enough of the population is fully immunized that COVID can’t make a comeback even if it has little outbreaks here and there.”