NACI advice on ‘preferred vaccines’ for COVID 19 sparks confusion, anger
NACI's advice appears to contradict Health Canada's long-standing recommendation that the best vaccine is the first one available.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is coming under fire after contradicting the advice Canadians have been receiving for weeks to take the first vaccine against COVID-19 that they’re offered.
NACI said on May 3 that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are “preferred” and that Canadians should weigh the risks of waiting for one of them before deciding whether to take a more immediate jab of either of the other two approved for use in Canada.
The Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines have been linked to a new and extremely rare blood-clotting syndrome.
Because of that, Dr. Shelly Deeks, vice-chair of the committee, said someone working from home in a province where there is not much disease might want to wait for a shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
But she said it would be a very different risk-benefit analysis for someone working in a manufacturing plant without personal protective equipment in a province where COVID-19 is spreading like wildfire.
NACI’s advice appears to contradict Health Canada’s long-standing recommendation that the best vaccine is the first one available.
Some doctors took to social media to denounce NACI’s latest advice, warning that the committee is sowing confusion and exacerbating vaccine hesitancy.
“It pains me to say this but it’s past time to take NACI’s recommendations with a grain of salt,” emergency physician Dr. Brian Goldman said on Twitter.
People who got innoculated with AstraZeneca also took to social media to express anger that they’d been hoodwinked into getting a second-rate vaccine while others questioned whether they should cancel planned first jabs of that vaccine or refuse a second dose of it.
One Twitter user noted acidly that NACI’s advice boils down to “people who are most at risk should settle for a vaccine with the most risk because they are most at risk.”
NACI chair, Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh, only made matters worse in trying to explain the committee’s advice during an interview on May 3 on CTV’s Power and Politics.
“If for instance my sister got the AstraZeneca vaccine and died of a thrombosis when I know it could have been prevented and that she is not in a high risk area, I’m not sure I could live with it,” she said.
Health Canada has approved J&J for use in Canada but no Canadian has yet received it as the first batch delivered last week is still being investigated following reports of safety and quality control violations at the American facility involved in its production.