North York Medical Group
704-240 Duncan Mill Road
April 26, 2021
The COVID vaccine roll-out is well underway in our province, and we are all currently working shifts through the NYFHT, NYGH and mobile pop-up clinics. There are different mechanisms to book your vaccination, and currently each hospital, pharmacies, and the city mass vaccination centres all have their own eligibility criteria. As the eligibility criteria is changing very rapidly, we would encourage you to consult the following resources to check for updated criteria and to register.
https://vaccineto.ca/landing (Toronto Hospitals and Ontario Health Teams COVID-19 Vaccination Booking Site)
https://www.nygh.on.ca/covid19vaccination (mobile clinics for high-risk populations)
https://covid19.ontariohealth.ca (province-run mass vaccination centre booking site)
We highly recommend that all eligible adults receive their COVID vaccine as soon as it is available to them, in order to protect themselves, their families, and ultimately help bring an end to the COVID-19 pandemic. All approved vaccines are safe and effective, and we encourage you to get the first available vaccine at the earliest opportunity.
Information regarding vaccines
We have been fielding many of your phone calls with questions about vaccine efficacy and safety. While everyone’s individual case may vary, it is imperative that everyone get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible, with the first vaccine offered to them. The COVID variants are spreading incredibly quickly, with higher rates of ICU admission and death than ever before. Protecting yourself as soon as you can with a vaccine is the best move you can make at this time.
Here are some helpful facts to know about COVID-19 vaccines;
1. The development of COVID-19 vaccines did not cut corners for safety and efficacy. The vaccines were made using processes that have been developed and tested over many years, and which are designed to make — and thoroughly test — vaccines quickly in case of an infectious disease pandemic like we are seeing with COVID-19. Steps in the testing and approval process were completed concurrently, rather than sequentially, with greater collaboration between countries, in order to speed up the process given the public health crisis.
2. All of the vaccines currently available are extremely safe and effective at preventing severe COVID-19 and death. There are currently 4 approved vaccines for COVID-19 in Canada- Pfizer Biontech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Janssen/Johnson & Johnson.
While some vaccines have higher efficacy rates than others for preventing any COVID-19 infection, all vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe COVID or death. Put simply, COVID vaccines save lives.
Efficacy against severe disease and hospitalization
All of the approved vaccines have a high efficacy rate against severe disease. In the clinical trials, efficacy against severe disease was shown to be:
Pfizer: 75-100% (after dose 2)
Moderna: 100% (14 days after dose 2)
AstraZeneca: 100% (after dose 2)
Janssen: 85.4% (28 days after dose)
For more information on vaccine development and safety, click here:
3. Minor vaccination side effects are common and self-limiting. Common side effects such as a sore arm, muscle aches, headaches and fever can occur and typically last 1-2 days. They are not dangerous, and they do not mean you are sick. We do recommend staying home and treating your symptoms with acetaminophen or ibuprofen and rest. These symptoms are a sign your immune system is responding to the vaccine. It is not possible to catch COVID-19 from a vaccine. It is possible to develop swelling of the lymph nodes under your arm following a COVID vaccine. For this reason, it is recommended that you delay getting a screening mammogram done for 6 weeks post vaccination to avoid a false positive mammogram result.
For more detailed information on vaccines and side effects, see the excellent resource below:
4. Serious, life -threatening vaccine side effects are exceedingly rare. Specifically, many patients are asking about VIPIT- Vaccine Induced Prothrombotic Immune Thrombocytopenia. This is an extremely rare but serious form of blood clot that has been reported in a small number of people within 4-20 days of receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine. The risk of this is somewhere between 1 in 125,000 to 1 in 1,000,000. Having a history of prior blood clots or low platelets does not appear to increase the risk of VIPIT. Most cases have occurred in younger women, although it is not clear if that is a true risk factor, or if a disproportionately higher number of young women have received the vaccine. In any case, your risk of contracting COVID and suffering a severe case, with complications including ICU admission, blood clots, kidney failure, long term symptoms (“long COVID”), or death, is MUCH higher than your risk of severe vaccine associated side effects. Your risk of serious injury in a car accident is much much higher than your risk of a severe COVID vaccine side effect, and yet most of us don’t think twice about a drive in the car. As the COVID variants of concern are highly contagious and are circulating so rapidly, time is of the essence. The COVID risk is very high and very real.
Please click below for a statement from Thrombosis Canada on the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clot risk:
5. Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
While pregnant and breastfeeding women were not included in the initial vaccine studies, pregnancy has recently been identified as a risk factor for severe COVID. Many pregnant and breastfeeding women have received the COVID vaccines over the last several months, and at this point it does not appear to increase their risk of adverse health or pregnancy outcomes. Pregnant women were recently added to the list of “highest priority” for vaccination and are now eligible for vaccination in Ontario. Pregnant individuals can call the provincial call centre at 1-888-999-6488 to book an appointment.
See below for more information on pregnancy, breastfeeding and COVID-19 vaccines:
6. Allergies and the COVID-19 vaccines
Many of you have been asking us about allergies and the risk of COVID-19 vaccination.
Only those with a known allergy to vaccine components (such as polysorbates, or polyethylene glycol), or who have experienced a severe rapid onset reaction to a previous vaccine or injectable medication require allergy assessment prior to being considered for COVID-19 vaccine. No special precautions are required for the administration of COVID-19 vaccines in those with a history of food, medication or environmental allergy.
7. Underlying health conditions and COVID-19 vaccines
People with underlying health problems, including but not limited to diabetes, autoimmune diseases, transplant recipients, obesity, HIV, cancer, and those taking immunosuppressant medications, are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 infection and death. Thus it is advisable for these higher risk individuals to be vaccinated as soon as possible. Vaccines are still safe in these populations. If you do take immunosuppressant medications, such as corticosteroids, chemotherapy or biologics, please contact your specialist before vaccination to inquire about any medication adjustments that might need to be made.
Currently, none of the available vaccines are approved for children under the age of 16. However, clinical trials in children are currently underway and it is likely that there will be approval for children in the coming months.
9. The ongoing importance of public health measures
It will take months to fully vaccinate enough of our population in order to achieve herd immunity. As such, adhering to public health measures (masks, physical distancing, avoiding indoor gatherings with those outside your household, etc.) is extremely important. Whether you have had zero, one or two vaccine doses, these rules must continue to be followed by all until we have the pandemic under control.
As always, the evidence and information is changing and expanding rapidly. As your Family Doctors, we are working hard to keep abreast of the latest scientific evidence and give you the best advice to stay safe. We strongly advocate for virtually everyone to get vaccinated against COVID-19, as soon as possible and with whichever vaccine is offered to you. This will not only protect you from severe COVID and death, but will protect your loved ones, our communities, reduce burden on a very stressed health care system, and ultimately will help bring a faster end to this pandemic.
We have your health always at top of mind and feel strongly that any vaccine associated risks are incredibly small compared to the benefit they offer against this terrible virus.
If you still have questions or concerns, feel free to contact us. Also feel free to share this resource with others outside of our practice who may have concerns or hesitation about COVID vaccination. We are hopeful that through vaccination and public health measures, we will see an end to this pandemic and a return to normal activities in the not-too-distant future!
All the best,
Drs. Gelman, Manis, Merbaum, Small, and Sonshine
October 14, 2020
Dear Patients and Families,
We hope that you are staying safe and well during these challenging times. We wanted to share some updates about our practice, including flu shots and other vaccinations.
As you may know, our office has remained open throughout the pandemic so far, and we continue to manage most of patient care virtually, through phone visits, secure messaging and video visits where needed. When an in-office visit is needed, we work to ensure limited patients in the office to allow proper physical distancing and thorough cleaning of rooms. Please do not come into our office without an appointment, and you will not be able to come into the office with any infectious symptoms such as cough or fever. Our amazing office staff Michelle, Ramona and Shawna continue to work full time, partly in the office and partly remotely. We thank them for their dedication to keeping things running very smoothly despite things changing week to week.
It is very important for everyone to have the influenza vaccine this year. Pharmacies and public health clinics are able to administer flu shots for children aged 5 and older, including the high dose flu vaccine for seniors. The North York Family Health team will be running clinics on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays as per below. The FHT website: www.nyfht.com will be updated shortly with further information on dates and how to book an appointment.
We have received our first shipment of flu shots for children, adults and seniors, and will book appointments for those that have difficulty accessing it through these other means, including for families with children under 5 and elderly patients with high risk conditions. Finally, visit www.myflushot.ca to find a clinic or pharmacy convenient to you.
North York Family Health Team Vaccine Clinic (by appointment)
Book flushot appointments online on the FHT website www.nyfht.com.
Or book by phone only on Fridays from 9am-5pm at (647) 670-2888.
Location: 240 Duncan Mill Road, 8th Floor
Tuesdays and Thursdays 12-8pm (starting October 27)
Seniors and priority individuals (with mobility concerns or serious medical conditions) requiring special accommodation may receive their vaccine in their car in the parking lot at 240 Duncan Mill Road.
NYFHT Drive Through Parking Lot Vaccination Clinic (no appointment needed)
225 Duncan Mill Road Parking Lot
Select Saturdays from 10am-4pm, weather permitting (likely starting October 31)
Toronto Public Health Flushot Clinics (by appointment)
North York Memorial Community Hall 5110 Yonge Street, North York (Wednesdays)
Carmine Stefano Community Centre 3100 Weston Road, North York
Metro Toronto Convention Centre 255 Front St. W., Toronto
Flu clinic appointments can be booked online at https://www.tphbookings.ca.
Grade 8 students who missed their second dose of vaccinations at school in spring 2020, as well as Grade 7 students who require Hepatitis B, Meningitis and HPV vaccines will be eligible to receive their vaccines in our office. Please call for more information and to book an appointment.
Beginning, mid-October, Ontario’s publicly funded shingles program will change from Zostavax to Shingrix. Adults between ages 65-70 are eligible for publicly-funded shingles vaccine. Adults outside of this age group who would like to be vaccinated for shingles will require a prescription to receive this vaccine. Please contact our office to schedule an appointment.
For the latest COVID-19 school and child care screening, please follow this link:
Thank you for trusting us for your care, and for your patience with evolving practices while we continue to provide needed care during this time.
Drs. Gelman, Manis, Merbaum, Small and Sonshine
North York Medical Group
July 10, 2020
Dear Patients and Families,
We would like to start by thanking all of you for your support during the Covid-19 Pandemic. We all play a vital role in keeping our patients, office staff, nurses and physicians safe and healthy. We continue to follow Public Health, the Ministry of Health and the Ontario Medical Associations recommendations with respect to caring for our patients. We will continue to practice virtual care whenever possible and will see patients in office as needed if a physical examination is required. Please call the office for urgent concerns and for appointment requests. Please note that we are continuing to hold off on online booking at this time but your physicians are available for appointments. Email can be used for non-urgent matters. We kindly ask that you do not email us with detailed personal information. Please do not come to the office without an appointment or prior approval from the office staff or physicians.
We would like to remind all our patients that emergencies are still happening during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Please do not delay care and go to an ER or call 911 right away should an emergency arise.
Cancer screening is beginning to restart gradually. We have already started to do Pap smears for those who need follow up of abnormal tests and for those people whose Pap smears are due or overdue (it has been 3 or more years). Please call our office to book an appointment if you fall into this category. Most imaging labs are now booking screening and follow up mammograms. Please call your local lab to arrange your mammogram if you are due. Colon Cancer screening with Fecal Immunochemical Testing (FIT) has not yet restarted in Ontario but will hopefully be up and running shortly.
Immunizations and injections continue to be done in the office. Please do not defer childhood vaccinations.
Bone Mineral Density testing has also restarted in many imaging labs. Please call your local lab for this as well if you are due.
We do want to follow up on your chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and hypertension if you are overdue for a follow up or have readings that are not well controlled. Please call the office and we will be happy to review these conditions with you virtually and if deemed necessary by your physician, personally in the office.
Please see link below for information from Choosing Wisely Canada on when adults should check-in with their physicians.
Please DO NOT come to the office if you have any symptoms on the COVID-19
screening list unless discussed with your doctor or nurse first.
Your COVID-19 swab results can be found online at:
Please come to the office for your appointment wearing a mask. There should be only one parent or one person accompanying a patient if they are in need of assistance. You will be screened by phone prior to coming to the office and once again when you get to the office.
Stay safe and healthy.
Drs. Gelman, Manis, Merbaum, Small and Sonshine