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October 4, 2023

COVID-19 fall 2023 statement


COVID-19 fall 2023 statement

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As COVID-19 levels in our communities grow, nursing unions are calling on both the federal and provincial governments to take proactive steps, including widespread public education to combat vaccine disinformation, to protect the safety of health care workers and the health of Canadians.


The issue

  • The prevalence of COVID-19 is again increasing in our communities, and the risks are still real.
  • Health Canada’s September 6 and September 12, 2023, COVID-19 epidemiology updates indicate rising COVID-19 activity across the country. A trend of increased cases has been noted in most provinces and territories, national test percent positivity is growing, and outbreaks are increasing.[1]
  • COVID-19 still poses significant health threats in the short and medium term.[2] A comprehensive understanding of the long-term effects of COVID-19 are still unknown.
  • Emerging evidence suggests that approximately 10-20% of people experience what is known as post-COVID condition at 12 weeks after their initial infection. Symptoms can range, but it negatively impacts health and well-being of those impacted.[3],[4],[5]
  • The seasonal nature of COVID-19 has not yet been definitively established, however, other respiratory viruses such as Influenza do present in a seasonal cycle with peaks in the fall and winter.[6]
  • New variants are being monitored, and their sensitivity to older vaccines and immunity from previous infections is waning.[7]
  • The Omicron (XBB 1.5) subvariants are the most prevalent variants of SARS CoV-2 circulating, accounting for about 99% of samples sequenced. Vaccine effectiveness is waning for older (monovalent) immunizations, which do not include Omicron subvariants.[8]
  • NACI has released updated vaccination guidelines as new variants are arising and vaccine efficacy from the original series is waning. Being fully vaccinated, including recommended booster doses, is strongly recommended.
  • Flu vaccines will be available around the same time as updated bivalent boosters, and both can be taken at once.[9]
  • Masking remains an important defense against COVID-19 outbreaks, however, masking and other PPE precautions have continued to relax in recent months. Given rising numbers and new variants, these policies may need to be reexamined, and access to sufficient quantities of PPE should be verified and reported.

[1] Public Health Agency of Canada. (2022). Covid-19 epidemiology update: Current situation. Retrieved from

[2] Raman, B., Cassar, M.P., Tunnicliffe, E.M., Filippini, N., Griffanti, L., Alfaro-Almagro, F., Okell, T. et al. (2021). Medium-term effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection on multiple vital organs, exercise capacity, cognition, quality of life and mental health, post-hospital discharge. EClinicalMedicine 31.

[3] Quinn, K. L., G. M. Katz, P. Bobos, B. Sander, C. D. McNaughton, A. M. Cheung, M. S. Herridge et al. (2022). Understanding the post COVID-19 condition (long COVID) in adults and the expected burden for Ontario. Science Briefs of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table 3, no. 65: 1-32.

[4] World Health Organization. Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19): Post Covid-19 Condition. World Health Organization. Accessed September 25, 2023. Retrieved from

[5] Public Health Agency of Canada. Covid-19: Longer-Term Symptoms among Canadian Adults – Highlights. (March 24, 2023). Retrieved from

[6] National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI). Guidance on the use of COVID-19 vaccines in the fall of

  1. (July 11, 2023). Retrieved from

[7] NACI. Guidance on the use of COVID-19 Vaccines Fall 2023. (July 11, 2023).

[8] National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI). Addendum to the guidance on the use of COVID-19 vaccines in the fall of 2023. (September 12, 2023). Retrieved from

[9] NACI. Guidance on the use of COVID-19 Vaccines Fall 2023. (July 11, 2023).