COVID-19 Vaccine
 

The Facts on the COVID-19 Vaccine

Health care providers urged to get immunized and be a trusted voice for patients: Dr. Reimer

During the early stages of the COVID-19 vaccine, there can be a lot of mixed messages online, in media and in other sources about who should be immunized and if it is safe and effective.  The province’s medical lead for COVID-19 vaccines says there is little need for concern.

“We’re already in the millions of doses being given globally, so we have a lot of information that we can rely on, even though it’s a new vaccine,” said Dr. Joss Reimer, medical officer of health and medical lead for the Manitoba Vaccine Implementation Task Force. “Overall, the number of adverse events or bad reactions seems to be quite in tune with other vaccines.”

Dr. Reimer said that according to trials done by the vaccine manufacturers, Pfizer and Moderna, there doesn’t appear to be a high risk for serious events after people are immunized, as compared with other vaccines. The only situation where the results appear to be different is with allergic reactions.

“There are some early indications that there may be a higher risk of an allergic reaction,” said Dr. Reimer. “But our clinics are prepared to deal with allergic reactions. We have people stay in the clinic after the vaccine, so we can observe them, and we have staff who are trained to manage those situations and provide safe care if that does happen.”

Dr. Reimer said health care providers are trusted sources of information for their patients, including about the COVID-19 vaccine.  The province has recently issued additional guidance for health care providers to guide these conversations with patients. If a health care provider is concerned about being immunized themselves because of medical issues, they should also talk to their own provider about the risks and benefits.

“If they have a lot of health conditions, it may be worth the risk of allergic reaction because the risk of COVID-19 is much higher for them.”

If a person has already had COVID-19, they may believe they don’t need the vaccine, but Dr. Reimer said it’s not that simple. However, at this early stage and with a limited supply of vaccine, the government is asking eligible health care providers to wait three months after being infected with COVID-19 to be immunized.

“We know that for the vast majority of people, they will develop some level of immunity after infection,” she said. “We are planning to immunize all Manitobans who are eligible and willing, whether or not they’ve had a history of infection. That just allows us to get the vaccine to people who have no immunity, as opposed to starting with people who may have some immunity.”

The government is working to set up a variety of options for health care providers to get the vaccine. In these early days, most of the effort has been concentrated on the immunization supersites in Winnipeg and Brandon, and the one set to open in Thompson in early February.

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine program in Manitoba, including eligibility criteria for health care providers, visit manitoba.ca/vaccine.