First shots and second opinions in the third wave

By Shachi Kurl, President

May 14, 2021 – NACI SAID WHAT, NOW? Earlier this week, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) declared Canada’s supply of Johnson & Johnson vaccine was okay for those over 30, “if the individual prefers an earlier vaccine rather than waiting for an mRNA vaccine and if the benefits outweigh the risks.”

NACI vice-chair Shelley Deeks went on to advise that Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines are “preferred” while viral vector vaccines produced by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are “very effective vaccine, but there is … a safety risk.

So, are they safe or not? And when did preference come into the picture?

Reaction on social media was a combination of head-scratching and tearing of hair from roots. Those vaccinated with AstraZeneca shared that they felt like chumps, not waiting for a “preferred” dose. Those planning to receive a literal shot in the arm of J&J were no longer sure if they should.

NACI doesn’t set health policy, Health Canada does. When asked to clarify, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said “the best place to get information is from their health care professional.”

Putting aside that those folks have better things to do in a pandemic than soothe flummoxed patients, how much access do Canadians even have to such professionals? Prior to the pandemic, Angus Reid Institute research found one-third of Canadians either didn’t have a GP or, if they did, still had trouble seeing their doctor.

For the rest of this piece, please view it on Politico Canada’s site where it was initially published.

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