by Dr. Nell Thomas
Q: Why should I get a vaccine?
A: Vaccine is the way to end the COVID19 pandemic. The vaccine protects yourself, your family and the community. Once the majority of the population is vaccinated, COVID-19 can no longer spread. There is an 80 per cent reduction in infections in long-term care homes that have been vaccinated. The sooner the majority of Canadians are vaccinated, the sooner our lives can return to normal.
Q: I’m not high risk. COVID-19 is not that bad. I don’t need a vaccine, right?
A: Globally, more than two million people have died of COVID-19 in less than a year. COVID-19 does not care how old you are or who you are. Anyone can get sick from the virus. Even if healthy people do not die from COVID-19 infection, they may have long-term complications that cause shortness of breath, low energy, headaches, muscle and joint pain, cognitive impairment, cough, loss of taste or smell. Even if you are not high risk, there are many in our community who are. When the majority of citizens are vaccinated, that protects all. Each year I get a flu vaccine. Even though my risk of death from flu is low, my vaccine helps stop the spread of influenza to others more vulnerable.
Q: Why can’t I wait and see what happens to others?
A: The sooner a majority of Canadians is vaccinated, the sooner our lives can return to normal. We need a majority to be vaccinated and that means we are all responsible for helping to achieve this goal.
Q: What if I’m breastfeeding? What if I’m pregnant?
A: Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers may be able to get the COVID-19 vaccines. There were no pregnant or breastfeeding individuals included in the Phase III vaccine trials for Moderna and Pfizer mRNA vaccines. Therefore, there are no safety data available for this group of individuals. For more information, please read the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada Statement on COVID-19 Vaccination in Pregnancy. It is suggested to speak to your primary health care provider to review your own medical status, risks and consequences of potential COVID-19 infection, and potential risk versus benefit of the vaccines. (All pregnant women need flu vaccines as influenza is particularly dangerous in pregnancy.)
Q: How will I know when it is my turn to get the vaccine?
A: In Ontario, adults over 80 years will start to receive vaccines March 15. Systems to identify and track candidates are being created, including online and telephone booking systems. According to the current provincial schedule, people 75 and older should start to receive their vaccines April 15, those 70 years and older start May 1, and people aged 65 years and older will be vaccinated starting June 1. This will be affected by vaccine availability.
Q: Where will I get my vaccine?
A: Local public health units are managing the vaccine rollout and in most communities vaccines are given in vaccination clinics run in hospitals, health units, medical clinics, doctors offices, pharmacies, and via mobile sites delivering to individuals. Mass vaccination sites (public buildings such as arenas) will be used in some communities. You will be notified as soon as we have our site(s) ready.
Q: How will I get my vaccine if I cannot leave the house?
A: Plans are being developed to bring the vaccine to individuals 80 years and older who are housebound.
Q: Once I am vaccinated, can I get together with friends and family who have also been vaccinated?
A: People are asked to continue to follow the public health measures (six feet apart, avoid indoor groups, double mask, hand hygiene). Avoid socializing with people from other households for now. Watch for updates from public health as infection rates and vaccination rates are tracked and will dictate safe activities for all of us.