Experts fear viral hepatitis epidemic.
The outbreak was traced to the injection of an infected person with a vaccine. It was contained on May 19.
«I think we’re all pretty much reassured,» said John Lassiter, a vice president for Health Canada who has been watching the outbreak for months and who is now advising the federal government.
«We’re hopeful to get to a point where we can continue to monitor the situation and not worry too much about the health and safety implications.»
Lassiter, who is from the northern Manitoba town of Haldimand, said he would like the vaccine to be available by next year but that it probably won’t be until 2020 or even 2021.
More than 50 provinces have now started phasing in their own vaccine. At the moment, only Saskatchewan has the same level of government-sponsored, licensed immunity for the vaccine as Ottawa.
«In the meantime, it’s very important that it be safe for individuals with current conditions to get vaccinated,» says Health Canada’s executive director of public affairs, Dan Scott.
In the current outbreak, the virus can be very hard to protect against with some people.
One reason it’s not dangerous is that the vaccine doesn’t have antibodies to the virus, Scott says.
It isn’t available in Canada today because the federal government passed legislation in 2013 to ensure the vaccine would cost significantly less than other vaccines, because it’s produced and manufactured with «natural» ingredients like wheat and corn.
That doesn’t mean, though, that anyone should rush out to buy a shot of it. Instead, it could be made available in a year or so and tested in a year or two, Scott says.
The good news is people with mild-to-moderate illnesses aren’t going to be vulnerable to the virus â€” which is why vaccination would help people with those conditions get health coverage, and prevent more serious infections, he added.
While everyone is feeling confident about this health issue, Scott says he’ll keep watching the virus for signs of progress.
People who have not been vaccinated against hepatitis B have no longer been vaccinated against the virus.
This article was updated to correct the spelling of Daniel D’Onofrio’s last name.
This story was updated at 3:50 p.m.