North York Medical Group
704-240 Duncan Mill Road
November 22, 2021
We continue to strongly recommend COVID vaccination for all patients age 5 and over.
For information on COVID vaccine in children, we recommend the following resource:
The following groups of people are now eligible for a third dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine 6 months (168 days) or more after their second dose of a COVID vaccine:
Adults 70 years of age and older
First Nations, Inuit and Metis adults
Adults who are healthcare workers and any staff members, students or volunteers working in a healthcare organization, including those not providing direct patient care (ie. cleaning staff, research staff, other administrative staff)
People who received two doses of AstraZeneca/COVIDSHIELD or one dose of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine
Moderately to severely immunocompromised patients whether due to disease or immunocompromising medications
Links to vaccine booking:
http://nyfht.com (North York Family Health Team offering 3rd doses for adults and Tuesdays and Thursdays 9am-4pm and children ages 5-12 Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4pm to 7pm). You may book online using the link or call 647-670-2888.
https://vaccineto.ca (City of Toronto portal)
Helpful facts regarding 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)
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.
5. Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
COVID-19 vaccination is recommended during pregnancy in any trimester and while breastfeeding to prevent severe outcomes like ICU admission and poor fetal outcomes.
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.
8. 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.
We strongly advocate for everyone to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible. 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.
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