All vaccines safe: NWHU

There have been growing concerns about the safety of some vaccines with people opting to wait for Pfizer or Moderna but Dr. Kit Young Hoon, medical officer of health at the Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU), said all vaccines offered are safe.

Young Hoon stressed that there are very low rates of serious adverse side effects of the vaccine.

There are only a few vaccines that are currently available. There is the Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna vaccine which are quite similar in effectiveness and side effects, Young Hoon said.

The vaccine that has citizens concerned in the AstraZeneca vaccine because of the rare side effect of blood clotting.

“This vaccine is still considered safe, and its effectiveness level tends to be lower than Pfizer and Moderna,” Young Hoon said. “Members of the public should be aware of the various things such as effectiveness levels and side effects.”

At this time, most clinics are administering the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. However, AstraZeneca has been offered through primary care as well as some pharmacies, Young Hoon added.

“It is good for individuals to make informed decisions but overall, considering the current supply, I think it’s useful for people to recognize that based on your risk level you may want to choose whatever vaccine is available to you right away,” Young Hoon said.

Young Hoon said eligible populations are going to be opening up over the month and by the end of May the booking system will be open to anyone to book an appointment.

With the vaccine allocations coming in, people who want to be vaccinated should be able to get an appointment by the end of June, Young Hoon added.

Young Hoon said over the course of the region’s vaccine rollout, they have mainly been administering the Moderna vaccine and have only recently started administering the Pfizer vaccines.

The NWHU has administered 29,055 doses of the vaccine so far.

Eligibility will open up on Thursday to those aged 50 and older, anyone in group one of essential workers who have worked from home and those with high-risk health conditions.

Young Hoon said all eligible people can book directly through the provincial booking system either online or by telephone.

“In most of our communities, 50 per cent of people aged 18 and older have now received their first dose of the vaccine,” Young Hoon said.

There are currently 66 active cases in the region, one in the Atikokan health hub, one in the Dryden health hub, three in the Emo health hub, 16 in the Fort Frances health hub, 31 in the Kenora health hub, four in the Rainy River health hub, one in the Red Lake health hub and nine in the Sioux Lookout health hub.

During the week of April 26 to May 2, the NWHU catchment area had 68 new confirmed cases and one new hospitalization occurred. There is currently one person in the region hospitalized for COVID-19.

Of the 68 new cases, seven were related to an outbreak, 23 were close contacts of previous cases and one was related to travel. The source of exposure remains unknown for 37 of these cases.

Overall, case numbers and rates are gradually worsening over the past month, Young Hoon said, adding that this is disappointing to the entire region as we are under an emergency brake and stay-at-home order.

Both are very high levels of public health restrictions, Young Hoon added.

Young Hoon said it is necessary for everyone to collectively follow public health measures and recommendations in order for case numbers to come down and public health measures lifted and schools to return to in person learning.

Since the NWHU’s reimplementation of the Class Section 22 Order, Young Hoon said the number of fines they have given out has been relatively small up to this point.

Young Hoon said she encourages anyone with even mild symptoms of COVID-19 to get tested and self-isolate.