COVID-19 vaccines are now available, and will be an important tool to help stop the spread of the virus causing COVID-19. We encourage all of our patients to sign up to receive their vaccine as soon as they are eligible to do so. You can find the most up to date eligible groups here:
We recognize that there are many questions surrounding the vaccines, and encourage you to review some of the resources below to find the answers to most FAQs. If you are unable to find the answer to your question in these links, please then call our office and ask the receptionist to forward your question to your family doctor. Most patients are able to safely receive these vaccines, and all of the vaccines offered in Canada are safe and effective.
2020 has brought fear and changes to the way we live our lives. As we begin 2021, there is hope as vaccines are on the way. This is what we know today about the COVID-19 vaccines.
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The vaccines are safe
The vaccines approved for use in Canada work by sending a message to our body’s immune system to stimulate our natural immune response. Over 70,000 people were involved in the trials of the approved vaccines. The mRNA technology on which the vaccines are built started in the early 1990’s, so the science is not new to us. As of January, more than 15 million people have been vaccinated worldwide.
The vaccines work
We know the vaccines protect us from getting COVID-19 and getting very sick from COVID-19. A 94 to 95 per cent efficacy level, as seen with the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, is as good as the results of the best vaccines we have for preventing any disease. People who were vaccinated for the COVID-19 virus were about 20 times less likely to get sick with COVID-19 than those who were not vaccinated. They also likely prevent us from spreading COVID-19 to our loved ones and those around us, although studies are ongoing. This level of efficacy will play a major role in helping slow spread and move us towards a post-pandemic Canada.
There will be people ahead of us in line and people behind us
Ontario’s goal is to vaccinate every eligible person by the end of 2021. In general, older adults and other at high risk of getting sick or transmitting the virus will be vaccinated before others. It will take time to vaccinate enough of the community members and achieve shared protection through herd immunity. During that time, it is crucial that we all continue to follow public health guidance regarding masking and social distancing, even after we are immunized-until expects say otherwise.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Pregnant and breastfeeding women were not included in trials for the currently available vaccines. However, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada has stated that “the documented risk of not getting the COVID-19 vaccine outweighs the theorized and undescribed risk of being vaccinated during pregnancy or while breastfeeding and vaccination should be offered.” The Ontario Ministry of Health guidance states that pregnant women should discuss risks and benefits with their family physician or primary healthcare provider. The Ministry also points out that mRNA vaccines are not live vaccines and are not expected to be a risk to the breastfeeding infant. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, we will discuss the risks and benefits to help you make an informed decision about receiving vaccine.
People who have ever had a severe allergic reaction (i.e. Anaphylaxis) to a previous dose of an mRNA vaccine or any of the ingredients in the vaccine should not receive it. We will discuss any allergies or other health conditions you may have before you receive the vaccine. If needed, we can seek input from an allergist-immunologist.
If you have an autoimmune or immunodeficiency condition, or are immunosuppressed due to disease or treatment, we will discuss the benefits and risks of vaccination given your particular situation and come to a decision together. People with these conditions were not included in the trials for the currently available vaccines, although vaccination may be a good idea for you to reduce your risk of getting a COVID-19 infection.
New Strains of COVID-19
These variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19. Currently, there is no evidence that these variants cause more severe illness or increased risk of death. However, an increase in the number of cases will put more strain on health care resources, lead to more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths. Rigorous and increased compliance with public health mitigation strategies, such as vaccination, physical distancing, use of masks, hand hygiene, and isolation and quarantine, will be essential to limiting the spread of COVID-19 and protecting public health.
Our office has remained open and accessible to you by telephone, computer or in-person as deemed necessary. We thank you for your understanding as we help you in your health in these different ways.
We look forward to when the vaccine allows us to return to life that is more connected.
In the meantime, please continue to wear a mask, keep your distance and wash your hands.