The first doses of the Pfizer vaccine have arrived in Canada, and vaccination will soon be available to high-risk groups and essential workers. If you haven’t been following the news closely, here are some facts about the COVID vaccines to fill you in:
Only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been granted emergency authorization for use in Canada as of mid-December, and supply is limited. Priority for the vaccine will be given to high-risk groups, healthcare workers and other essential workers.
A similar vaccine produced by Moderna (which works in a similar way as the Pfizer vaccine) is impending approval. Meanwhile, more vaccines are being tested and evaluated by Health Canada.
The effectiveness and response to the vaccine will differ between different people. Some factors include age and the state of one’s immune system. There is no definitive answer as to how effective the vaccine is on different groups yet.
The vaccine requires two shots, spaced 3-4 weeks apart for it to be fully effective. This is true for both the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the impending Moderna vaccine.
Current observable side effects based on trials include: sore arms, redness at the injection site, fever, headache or fatigue- these symptoms represent that your immune system is hard at work, and is nothing to worry about. However, please seek medical attention if you experience a high fever or other severe reactions to the vaccine.
Pregnant women were excluded from the vaccine trials, so it is difficult to know how the vaccine will perform on pregnant women. Since fever is one of the side effects of the vaccine, experts recommend that pregnant women consult a doctor before receiving the vaccine. Further research still needs to be conducted for us to know more about this topic.
You will still have to wear your mask because a vaccinated person can still be carriers of the virus. There is no evidence that the Pfizer vaccine is 100% effective yet, so chances are that you can still be a carrier even after you get vaccinated. So it is important to keep wearing your mask and practicing physical distancing until further notice.
There have been several severe allergic reactions to the Pfizer vaccine in the UK. So it’s important to check with your doctor for potential allergic reactions. The following are the ingredients in the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine:
ALC-0315 = ((4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate).
ALC-0159 = 2-[(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide.
Dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate.
Monobasic potassium phosphate.
Water for injection.
For Canadians, the vaccine will be free of charge. But priority to the vaccine will be given to high-risk groups and essential workers. Availability will initially be limited to hospitals and long-term care facilities for distributing the vaccine to these high-risk groups. Drugstore chains will likely carry the vaccine at later dates as the vaccine becomes more available. Remember to keep wearing your mask and avoid close contact with those outside your core bubble. Happy Holidays, everyone!