A day after the National Immunization Advisory Committee (NACI) said that COVID-19 viral vector vaccines like those offered by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are not “favorite” products, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tried to reassure Canadians today that all vaccines approved for use in this country is safe and effective.
Speaking to reporters at a COVID-19 conference today, Trudeau said Canadians should not worry about getting a dose of AstraZeneca.
With Canada in the midst of a third pandemic wave, Trudeau said it is prudent for people to take the first look offered to help reduce the number of cases and hospitalizations.
“Make sure you get your goal when it ‘s your turn. We’re continuing to recommend everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible so we can get through this,” Trudeau said.
“The effects of catching COVID are far greater and more deadly, as we have seen across the country, than the potential side effects. Let me remind everyone that any vaccine administered in Canada is safe and effective, as estimated from Health Canada “.
Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grgoire Trudeau, each received a dose of AstraZeneca at a pharmacy in Ottawa late last month. He said today that he has no regrets.
NACI, an independent body made up of volunteer experts, said Monday that Canadians less likely to contract COVID-19 may want to wait until an mRNA scan from Pfizer or Moderna is available because those products do not carry the same risk from very rare but serious, blood clots.
“What we have been saying all along is that mRNA vaccines are the preferred vaccines,” said Dr. Shelley Deeks, vice president of NACI.
She said the suggestion that some people may want to wait for another stroke comes after the NACI received more information about the possibility of developing vaccine-induced thrombocytopenia (VITT). Low platelet count combined with blood clotting .
Based on current data, NACI estimates that VITT occurs at a rate of 1 in 100,000 shots rather than the 1 to 250,000 previously predicted.
“Viral vector vaccines are very effective vaccines, but there is a safety signal, a safety hazard, and the safety signal issue is that, although very rare, it is very serious, so individuals should have an informed choice,” Deeks said
“When we first made recommendations for COVID vaccines in Canada, we did not know about the vaccine safety signal. Now there was a vaccine safety signal and we modified the recommendations.”
LOOK: NacIsays Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines are the preferred type
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s top public health official, said today that she could “sympathize with people who find it difficult to follow emerging advice” given that public health officials have been saying for weeks that Canadians should choose the product first offered to them.
She said Canadians should do a risk-benefit analysis before rolling up their sleeves for a hit.
In regions where COVID-19 is rampant, such as Alberta and Ontario, it makes sense to seek available vaccine immediately, she said, because the risk of contracting the virus is high.
In places like PEI, where transmission rates are lower, Canadians may want to wait for another opportunity, she said. She added that Canadians should follow instructions issued by local public health officials.
Tam said it is not uncommon for recommendations to change especially at a time when rapidly evolving vaccines are being widely deployed to hit a pandemic that has already killed millions worldwide.
“NACI is taking into account the data we are collecting in real time and is developing advice based on them,” she said. “As the benefits and risks are weighed, these parameters may shift over time.”
Tam said that while the current guideline is for AstraZeneca recipients to receive a second dose of the same product, NACI is reviewing research into mixing AstraZeneca with an mRNA shot.
“There will be further future advice for that second dose based on emerging science,” Tam said. “There will be further clarifications and advice before individuals take their second dose and we need to look at that space.”
Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner, the party’s health critic, today Islamized what she called the government’s “failed” approach to communicating with Canadians about vaccine safety.
The Alberta MP accused the government of sending “mixed messages”, with some officials saying Canadians should get the first case available while NACI suggests some may want to wait for a specific product.
“What Canadians need is clear, concise and consistent communication when it comes to the use of vaccines. Conservatives have been calling for this for weeks. Buck stops with the health minister. She needs to fix this problem immediately. “Her lives are in danger,” Rempel Garner told Health Minister Patty Hajdu.
Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand said Moderna will deliver millions of doses of its product this week, days earlier than expected.
Pfizer is already on track to take more than two million shots a week this month. That means more than three million mRNA shots will be put into provincial immunization campaigns this week.
Moderna deliveries have been volatile since the start of this vaccination attempt. Deliveries have been reduced or delayed as Moderna which did not have a record before 2020 to produce anything on this scale has struggled to increase production in the face of insatiable global demand.
Anand said there could be more security for these forward-moving shipments as the company sorts through bottlenecks at its European facilities. “Moderna has worked with our department to strengthen a more regular plan,” she said.
Asked if Canada would require vaccination proof from international travelers as the shootings become more ready months in advance, Trudeau said the government is now working out new rules.
“As people start traveling again, maybe this summer, if all goes well, it would make sense for us to team up with partners around the world for some sort of vaccination test or vaccine certification,” Trudeau said.
SEE: Trudeau is asked about vaccine passports
“We are looking at it very carefully and hope to join allied countries.”
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