Don't hesitate to get COVID-19 vaccine, Colby says

Dr. David Colby will roll up his sleeve for a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as he can, and he encourages everyone to do the same.

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Dr. David Colby will roll up his sleeve for a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as he can, and he encourages everyone to do the same.

Chatham-Kent’s medical officer of health is certain any vaccines approved by Health Canada will be safe.

“I just really want all of your readers to know that once these vaccines are approved, they will be perfectly good to go out and get their vaccine at the earliest opportunity,” he said. “I don’t believe people should hesitate.

“Things like mild arm pain or feeling a little bit off for a day or two, they are minor compared with the benefits of preventing a disease with a very significant mortality (rate) as any glance at the cumulative figures will show.”

The vaccine testing data looks “very, very good,” he said. “We are anticipating that several vaccines may even be approved this month by Health Canada. I have complete confidence in that process, that it has not been rushed, that any vaccine that gets approved will be safe and I would roll up my sleeve at the earliest opportunity that I have to get that vaccine.

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“But I want people that are at the highest risk of death to have it first. I’m not trying to take somebody’s place, but I have no hesitation.”

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends the first doses go to residents and staff in seniors’ group homes, adults who are 70 years and older, health-care workers, and adults in Indigenous communities.

“I think everybody agrees the people who are at the highest risk of mortality if they get COVID-19 should be first in line. Then we start thinking about people that have the greatest potential to actually spread it,” Colby said. “Looking at what’s happening at University Hospital in London, I would think that hospital staff would be a very high priority.

“Whether this is going to be dictated at a provincial level with a policy across Ontario or whether there’s going to be local discretion of medical officers of health, those principles will be adhered to because they just make sense.”

The outbreak at University Hospital grew Friday to include 112 cases and 12 deaths.

The Pfizer vaccine has already been approved in the United Kingdom. Health Canada officials have said it could be approved here as soon as next week.

“Vaccines are incredibly safe and all of the vaccines that are being submitted for approval to Health Canada have proven safety records,” Colby said. “The notion that vaccines are not safe is really not a genuine worry in most instances. We have a very strong precautionary approach. These vaccines have been expedited, but these safety studies have all been done. …

“The Moderna vaccine was actually designed in 48 hours. All of the rest of the time has been taken up by these rigorous testing protocols that are very robust.  I don’t think that people should be hesitant at all about having the vaccines as soon as they are approved.”