6 reasons to accept the first COVID-19 vaccine available

Excerpt: Public Health experts strongly advise that you accept the first COVID-19 vaccine that comes available and caution against the risks associated with waiting for a particular vaccine. Experts recommend taking whatever vaccine you can get to prevent severe disease, hospitalization, and death, reduce infection risk, and curb community transmission. This will also help to slow the creation of new, potentially more dangerous variants and promote a gradual return to normal life safely.

Should you and other family members take whatever COVID-19 vaccine first comes available to you?

Some Canadians are waiting, or thinking about waiting, for a particular vaccine to become available. Public Health experts strongly advise that you accept the first dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can get it,* says the World Health Organization. Infectious disease specialists caution against waiting for a particular vaccine because of the many serious risks and disadvantages that delaying vaccination poses for the individual, family members, friends, their community, country and the entire world.

In making your decision to accept the first COVID-19 vaccine available, it is important to follow Public Health recommendations in your province and age-related eligibility criteria. If you have concerns about the safety of a particular vaccine, experts recommend discussing the benefits and risks with your family doctor.

Here are some all-important benefits of getting vaccinated as soon as possible with any one of the four COVID-19 vaccines already approved in Canada:

  1. Prevent severe disease, complications or death
    All four approved vaccines in Canada have shown through clinical trials they are effective in preventing severe disease, complications and death,* according to Toronto’s University Health Network. Real-world results from a Public Health England study found that both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-Astra-Zeneca vaccines are highly effective in protecting people against severe illness, hospitalization and death.*

  2. Reduce the risk of infection
    All the approved vaccines substantially reduce the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19.* Because each vaccine was tested in different populations and some were tested before there were variants of concern, published reports of differences in their rates of effectiveness in preventing infection can be misleading and are not direct or fair comparisons.*

  3. Curb transmission and stop the spread
    COVID-19 vaccines substantially lower the risk of transmitting the virus to others, but do not eliminate the risk,* according to the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). A study conducted in Israel showed the risk of transmitting the virus was reduced by 90% among those vaccinated compared with those not vaccinated.* Because vaccines don’t eliminate transmission, mask wearing in public, social distancing and frequent handwashing remain important infection control strategies before and after being vaccinated,* NEJM advises.

  4. Reduce hospitalizations and strain on the healthcare system
    In Scotland, real-world results showed that the use of the Pfizer and Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccines reduced the risk of hospital admissions from COVID-19 by about 90% after a single dose,* reported a study by Scottish universities and Public Health Scotland.

  5. Slow the creation of new variants
    Ramping up vaccination can slow replication of coronavirus in the population, which leads to fewer COVID-19 variants and helps current approved vaccines stay effective,* advises University of Toronto. This helps prevent the emergence of new variants that could be even more dangerous and spread more easily than the variants associated with the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil.*.

  6. Help return life to normal
    The combination of vaccinating as many Canadians as soon as possible and continuing to follow Public Health infection control precautions is the surest way to return to a more normal life safely.*

*The following source provided a reference for this blog:
1. Ottawa Citizen. “Deonandan: No, you shouldn’t wait for a better vaccine.” (2021), online: https://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/deonandan-no-you-shouldnt-wait-for-a-better-vaccine
2. CTV News. “Take the first COVID-19 vaccine available, infectious disease specialist recommends.” (2021), online: https://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/take-the-first-covid-19-vaccine-available-infectious-disease-specialist-recommends-1.5336852
3. Public Health England. “New data show vaccines reduce severe COVID-19 in older adults.” (2021), online: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-data-show-vaccines-reduce-severe-covid-19-in-older-adults
4. New England Journal of Medicine. “Do the vaccines prevent transmission of the virus to others?” (2021), online: https://www.nejm.org/covid-vaccine/faq
5. The Guardian. “One vaccine dose gives high protection from severe Covid, evidence shows.” (2021), online: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/feb/22/one-vaccine-protection-severe-covid-evidence
6. U of T News. “U of T expert Omar F. Khan answers COVID-19 vaccine questions.” (2021), online: https://www.utoronto.ca/news/u-t-expert-omar-f-khan-answers-covid-19-vaccine-questions
7. CTV News. “Is herd immunity still possible in Canada? Experts aren’t so sure.” (2021), online: https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/is-herd-immunity-still-possible-in-canada-experts-aren-t-so-sure-1.5353237