Your Questions Answered: Expert Answers Reader Questions About COVID-19 Vaccines

Tuesday August 3rd, 2021

Posted at 12:18pm

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Dr. Ross Moncur, Chief of Staff at Erie Shores Healthcare

Not planning on getting the COVID-19 vaccine? On the fence? Have questions about vaccines?

We asked for your questions last week, and they’ve now been answered by Dr. Ross Moncur, Chief of Staff from Erie Shores HealthCare.

Q: I know some people who have outright said they will lie about having the vaccine! They are antivaxxers, in their 70’s. My mental health is extremely affected. How to go forward …. I cannot fathom people lying about this?

A: Concerns like yours are understandable. For many in our community the pandemic has been some of the most emotionally trying times of their lives. We can’t control the thinking of others, but we can try our best to maintain our own mental health. If you feel concerns related to the pandemic get overwhelming, be sure to seek help. Mental health supports are available across the region and a great place to start is the BounceBack program. Find out more about it at https://bouncebackontario.ca/.

 

Q: Hello, I received the Asta-Zeneca/Covishield vaccine on March 15th and then the second dose on June 5th. All of the different reports make my head spin! My question is the following: What can be done for people like me to allow for me to eventually go to Michigan to see my son and grandkids when the border actually does open up?  Quebec is talking allowing a 3rd dose for traveling. But for people like myself, a 3rd dose of what??

A: First, I want to say I get your concern about being able to visit your family in Michigan. It’s heart breaking to hear about the families who have been split apart during the pandemic. As a Chief of Staff, I don’t have any input into public policy so unfortunately I can’t comment on your ability to cross the border. Cross-border travel rules are likely, in my opinion, to change a few more times before they are settled, and so we will all need to stay tuned.

 

Q: The data shows while still a good amount, that the AZ offers lower protection from the Delta variant. But again, what could they do for me? Is anyone doing any studies to figure out if people like myself in Canada would perhaps be given the full series of Pfizer or Moderna on top of what I have already had? Could that even be safe?

A: According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine this week (https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2108891), the AZ vaccine has approximately a 70% efficacy rate against the Delta variant. While not as high as Pfizer that is still a very good efficacy rate compared to many vaccines.  We will see more studies about mixing vaccine types over time, I think, and the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations (NACI) continues to update their recommendations with new data.  I encourage you to check in with their website frequently for updates.

 

Q: Can you still get COVID-19 after being vaccinated?

A: Unfortunately, yes. There are cases where a patient who received both vaccinations did contract COVID. However, the chance of becoming sick to the point of requiring hospitalization when you’ve been fully vaccinated is significantly lower than if contracted by someone who hasn’t been vaccinated.

 

Q: Why can’t we get a antibody test to see how much of the population was infected prior, during, after the pandemic that alone would give people piece of mind making a decision on getting a vaccine or not?

A: Antibody testing is available for purchase for residents in Ontario, although it is imperfect and so has not been widely recommended as a diagnostic test.  What I will say though is that a decision to get vaccinated shouldn’t rely on whether you have had the virus or not. Studies have shown that for people who recovered from COVID-19, the vaccine remains safe and is likely providing a boost to their antibodies, further limiting their chance of serious complications from the virus.

 

Q: This is an emergency use authorization only vaccine being I believe the first mRNA type vaccine to be used on the public Vs an approved vaccine. There hasn’t been any talk from doctors explaining the difference between “emergency use authorization vs approved vaccine!

A: Thanks for the question. “Emergency Use Authorization” is a form of approval used by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) in the US. It has been around for some time and was setup specifically for times like a pandemic. In Canada, Health Canada didn’t have something similar. There was an order issued last September by the government, and recently amended in March, which allowed for something similar in our country on a temporary basis (https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/drug-products/applications-submissions/guidance-documents/food-drug-regulations-amendments-covid-19.html).

In Canada, the idea is to allow a “rolling approval” process. This means that instead of a drug company submitting all of the information required in one process (manufacturing processes, authorizations, marketing plans, and clinical trial data) it could be done in stages. This allowed drug makers to submit data related to manufacturing prior to submitting data for final stage human clinical trials.

Despite this, the Health Canada requirements for data, including clinical trials, remained the same; the difference was that they didn’t have to wait to submit all of the information at once, it could be done in stages. We have been assured many times over that there were no “skipped” steps during the study or approvals process.

 

Q: Can the COVID-19 vaccine can cause infertility in women, or is it dangerous for pregnant women and their babies.

A: Although research on pregnancy is limited (most new drugs and vaccines exclude pregnant women from initial clinical trials), many pregnant women have been vaccinated and there is no suggestion that there is any safety issue for COVID-19 vaccines in pregnancy. Likewise there is no indication that the COVID-19 vaccine can cause infertility. The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC) continue to recommend that COVID vaccination is offered to pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Thanks to Dr. Moncur from Erie Shores HealthCare for answering these questions.

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