Third Vaccination Message: Local Update & FAQs
Second, the Ontario Science Advisory Table estimates that variants of concern (VOCs) make up more than half of all new cases province wide. The Advisory Table is particularly concerned about the COVID UK variant — referred to as B.117. These more easily transmissible VOCs are likely to drive the third wave, and this is worrisome.
1. How can I get an appointment for my vaccine shot?
- Check the WDG Public Health website frequently and you will find when it is your turn to register. The website is: https://www.wdgpublichealth.ca/
- Currently, residents 60 years and over, persons with other diseases and all persons involved in health care and long-term care are eligible.
- The first step (for those who are eligible) is to pre-register online at https://register.wdgpublichealth.ca/. Next, you will be contacted and given a unique code so that you can schedule a date, time and location.
- Or you can register by phone: 844-780-0202 (although it may take time to get through)
2. I am hesitant to get the vaccine. What is your advice?
- People have different reasons for “vaccine hesitancy”. Despite knowing that many diseases, such as smallpox and polio, have been eradicated or controlled by vaccines, the speed of development and political pressure to get a COVID-19 vaccine has created some scepticism. However, a lack of understanding of the science is less likely the driver of hesitancy, than is the lack of trust in public institutions.
- One vaccine – the AstraZeneca/Oxford (AZ) - has had a problematic rollout with a dosing error in the phase three trial and subsequent poor communications. Recently it has been suggested that AZ vaccine has caused blood clotting in leg veins and lungs. This has resulted in seven or more European countries suspending its use. However, there is no hard evidence that AZ does cause blood clotting. Although this issue, and others, are disturbing, the openness of information should contribute to public trust.
- A good way to help decide about vaccination is to educate yourself by getting as much vaccine information as you can, and by speaking with trusted acquaintances — family, friends, a family doctor or a religious leader.
3. How can I know that the vaccines are safe?
- Before acceptance, each vaccine approved for use in Canada underwent three clinical trials. The final and largest was a phase three trial that involved two large groups of people. One group was given the vaccine, the other was given a placebo - a “pretend” vaccine. The effectiveness at preventing COVID-19 was compared between the two groups. Side effects or adverse events were also identified. These groups are large, often having 10,000 people in each group, in order that the trial results can be considered significant.
- Once a vaccine is approved and vaccination starts, the vaccine continues to be studied. This is a phase four trial (a “real-life” trial), and these trials are massive. The Israeli phase four trial, which has recently been published, had about 600,000 vaccinated people compared to a similar group of 600,000 non-vaccinated persons. A huge study like this will provide further information about possible rare side effects, confirm the degree of efficacy, and identify other benefits such as the prevention of death.
4. What are the differences between the Canadian approved vaccines?
5. Can you explain “efficacy” in real numbers?
6. Currently in WDG the Pfizer vaccine is being given with an interval of 4 months between the first and second doses. How effective is this vaccine after a single dose?
- In the Israel study, the largest study yet reported, efficacy was 90% by day 21 after the first jab with the Pfizer vaccine. So, you do have some very good protection even after the first dose.
7. Are the vaccines effective against the new variants?
- The vaccines provide significant protection from the dominant VOC now in Ontario (the UK variant), however the effectiveness against the South African and Brazilian variants is not generally as high. However, the vaccine manufacturers say that they can readily adapt their vaccines and create booster doses to manage variants.
8. What other factors are important in addition to quoted efficacy numbers?
- The vaccines are very effective not only for increasing your resistance to developing symptoms or carrying (without symptoms) the COVID-19 virus, but importantly, if you are infected, all vaccines are very effective at reducing the likelihood of severe disease or death.
9. Do I have a choice of which vaccine I will receive?
- At this time, WDG Public Health is only giving the Pfizer vaccine. It is expected that all four vaccines will be available some day in the future. There has been no mention about the option of personal selection of a vaccine.