By Arif Ahmed
Health Canada has approved four COVID-19 vaccines for use in Canada. In December 2020, the regulatory body approved two mRNA vaccines. One from Pfizer-BioNTech and another one from Moderna. In February, Health Canada has approved one from AstraZeneca. In early March, another vaccine from Johnson & Johnson was given the ok for use in Canada.
For safety reasons, AstraZeneca vaccines are temporary suspended in many countries. (Mainly in Europe)
At least five European countries have suspended using a specific batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine after a Danish woman died due to the formation of blood clots after inoculation. Also, Italy halted the use of a separate group after two people died.
However, The World Health Organization (WHO) has backed the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“More than 335 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered globally so far, and no deaths have been found to have been caused by COVID-19 vaccines,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday.
The government of Canada website mentions,
“Health Canada is aware of reports of adverse events in Europe following immunization with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and would like to reassure Canadians that the benefits of the vaccine continue to outweigh its risks. Health Canada authorized the vaccine based on a thorough, independent review of the evidence and determined that it meets Canada’s stringent safety, efficacy, and quality requirements.”
When did the vaccination start in Ontario?
In Ontario, vaccination started in December 2020. The first phase group:
- Congregate living for seniors
- Health care workers
- Adults in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit populations
- Adult chronic home care recipients
- Adults over 80 years old
The distribution centre will include hospital site clinics, mobile teams, site-specific clinics, and mass vaccination clinics.
And the second phase will start from April 2021 to July 2021. The second phase group:
- Adults aged 60 to 79, in 5-year increments.
- High-risk congregate settings (such as shelters, community living)
- Individuals with high-risk chronic conditions and their caregivers
- Those who cannot work from home.
- At-risk populations
Mass vaccination clinics, pharmacies, primary care, site-specific clinics, mobile teams, mobile sites and public health units
And the last phase will start from July 2021 onwards, which is for 18 through 59.
The vaccine is approved for people over the age of 18. Its safety and effectiveness in people younger than 18 years of age have not yet been established.
Health Canada’s chief medical advisor Dr. Supriya Sharma said AstraZeneca has also started a clinical trial to test its vaccine in younger age groups.
The city of Toronto website mentions that Torontonians born in 1941 or earlier can now book appointments for three City mass COVID-19 immunization clinics opening March 17, for two more clinics opening March 29, and one more clinic opening on April 5.