Dear patients and community members:
The COVID-19 pandemic made 2020 a very hard year in so many ways. We know many of you have struggled during this difficult time. 2021 brings some hope, with the availability of COVID-19 vaccines.
Many people have questions about COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccines. We know that there are lots of ways you can go looking for answers and we would encourage you to use the Peterborough Public Health website for the most up to date and reliable information: Peterborough Public Health
We are here to answer your questions. Here is a brief update based on current evidence:
Vaccine supply is limited now, but there will be lots of vaccine in the spring
Ontario’s goal is to vaccinate every eligible person by the end of summer. In general, older adults and others at high risk of getting sick or spreading the virus will be vaccinated before others. By later in the spring and summer, vaccines are likely to be available in multiple locations and the Peterborough Public Health website and social media will keep you informed about how you can get your vaccine. The vaccines we are expecting in Peterborough are the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which are known as “mRNA” vaccines – for “messenger RNA.”
Vaccines give us hope, but right now we need to be more careful than ever
Many hospitals in Ontario are full. New strains of COVID-19 may be more contagious. Besides getting vaccinated when our time comes, we must keep 6 feet away from others, wear masks, , wash our hands, and have good ventilation. Stay home whenever possible – but stay connected as best you can to others.
The vaccines work
The vaccines are very good at protecting people from getting sick from COVID-19. In clinical studies, very few people got COVID-19 within 12 days of getting the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. This result is similar to the Moderna vaccine, which is the other COVID-19 vaccine now approved for use in Canada. It is likely that they will also prevent the spread of COVID-19 to our loved ones and those around us, although studies are ongoing. The vaccines work best about 2 weeks after the second dose.
The vaccines are safe
Over 70,000 people were involved in the trials of the approved vaccines. That is 10 times more than the number in other vaccine trials. Plus, over 30 million people have been vaccinated worldwide. We have lots of information on the safety of these vaccines.
The side effect most commonly experienced is a sore arm, which is a sign that the vaccine is working. Allergic reactions happen for about 1 in 100,000 people and have all been treated successfully. There are no clear signs of serious negative reactions that are caused by the vaccine, but as with every vaccine, scientists and health professionals will continue to carefully watch new information as millions of more people get vaccinated.
Is the vaccine safe for people with allergies?
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.
Is the vaccine safe for people with autoimmune conditions or who are immunocompromised?
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.
The vaccines cannot give you COVID-19
We are often asked if the vaccines can give somebody COVID-19 and the answer is no. “Messenger RNA” (mRNA) is used every moment of every day by your body to make protein. The vaccines get your body to make the COVID-19 spike protein. The mRNA from the vaccine and the spike protein then dissolve, but not before they spark our immune system to make a memory of the spike protein. Like a Most Wanted poster, if our immune system ever sees the spike protein again, like on the COVID-19 virus, it will be ready to fight it off before we get infected.
The vaccines cannot change your DNA
The COVID-19 vaccines cannot change your DNA. DNA is the material in our bodies that carries our genetic material.
Is the vaccine safe in pregnancy?
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.” We would be happy to discuss risks and benefits with you if you are pregnant. The vaccines will not affect fertility.
Is the vaccine safe while breastfeeding?
The vaccines are not “live virus” 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 the vaccine.
Our clinic has remained open throughout the pandemic and we continue to be available to you by phone, by video or in person as necessary. We thank you for your understanding as we provide health care in these different ways.
Thank you all for what you have done to keep yourselves, your loved ones, and your communities safe. Thank you to our staff who have faced fears and yet still provide the services that we need.
We all look forward to when the vaccine allows us to return to a life that is more connected. In the meantime – wear a mask, keep your distance, wash your hands. AND be calm, be safe, and be kind.
The Peterborough 360 Degree NPLC