Healthcare leaders with the All Nations Health Partners Ontario Health Team are encouraging everyone to book their COVID-19 vaccinations as soon as they’re able to, to help protect the northwestern Ontario community.

This includes Dr. Jennifer Wesley with Kenora’s Paterson Medical Centre and Lake of the Woods District Hospital, who explains what residents can expect after receiving their Moderna COVID-19 vaccination.

“The most common side effects, generally estimated to be about 10 percent or more of the population, will have some arm pain at the injection site. You may have a little bit of swelling, muscle aches, headaches and general flu-like symptoms the next day. These typically resolve in about 24 to 48 hours. Those are common with this type of vaccine.”

Public health staff and the federal government are tracking any Adverse Events Following Immunization, unwanted side effects that may or may not be caused by the vaccine known as AEFI’s, that have been reported locally and in Canada, respectively.

Out of the 1,778,405 estimated doses administered across Canada as of March 8, there have been 1,591 total reports, or about 0.089 percent of all doses administered. 1,397 of those reports were considered non-serious, and 194 were considered serious.

Wesley notes if you do develop unexpected symptoms or side effects after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, you’re asked to contact your local healthcare provider, who will, in turn, report the AEFI to the province and federal governments, which is standard for all vaccines.

“There are more significant and serious side effects, generally associated with an allergic reaction, and those are rarer. It’s important to know that you can have an allergic reaction up to 24 hours after the Moderna vaccination, but this is very rare.”

Wesley notes just like flu vaccine clinics, you will be asked to remain at the vaccination site for 15 to 30 minutes afterwards, to make sure you don’t have an allergic reaction to the vaccine.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use messenger RNA technology, using RNA encoded with the piece of the COVID-19 virus known as the spike protein. The mRNA then trains the body to fight off a COVID-19 infection.

Health Canada says both vaccines were about 95 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 in clinical trials. Reports in Canada have said even one dose has prevented the illness in more than 80 percent of long-term care residents and health-care workers.

Dr. Wesley adds after your first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, you’re still susceptible to catching COVID-19 and it’s very important to follow-through and receive your second dose of the vaccine, typically within a 28-day period. Health leaders have noted the second dose doesn’t need to be given within that exact timeframe.

“Even if you do have minor side effects, all of which resolve within 24 to 48 hours, you still need the second vaccine. You will have some protection with one dose, but it’s important to continue with social distancing. You’re still susceptible to catching the COVID-19 virus up to 12 days after you’ve had the vaccination.”

Approved late last month, AstraZeneca operates as a viral vector vaccine, which takes a cold virus and modifies it so it can’t reproduce itself, before adding the COVID-19 spike protein. When injected, it provokes the body to develop infection-fighting antibodies and cells to fight the virus.

Health Canada says it is about 62 percent effective, with mostly mild and short-lived side-effects like headaches, fatigue and soreness at the injection site.

The Johnson and Johnson vaccine received approvals last week, while the Novavax vaccine’s approval isn’t expected until next month.

According to Our World in Data, which has been tracking the amount of COVID-19 vaccines administered around the world, says Canada has given out 1.33 million total vaccinations so far.

As of March 8, Canada ranks 22nd for countries with the most doses administered, behind Mexico and Bangladesh, and just ahead of Romania and Serbia. The United States has the highest reported total at 90.35 million, with China sitting second at 52.52 million.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that every Canadian who wants to get vaccinated will be able to by the end of September 2021. Only those 18 or above are able to receive a vaccine at this time.

In Ontario, seniors aged 80 or older are able to book their COVID-19 vaccination appointment as of March 15. Those in other age brackets can book their appointments two weeks prior to the opening date.

April 15 – Those over the age of 75 will be able to book their COVID-19 vaccination appointments.
May 1 – Those over the age of 70 will be able to book their COVID-19 vaccination appointments.
June 1  Those over the age of 65 will be able to book their COVID-19 vaccination appointments.
July 1 – Those over the age of 60 will be able to book their COVID-19 vaccination appointments.

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms is asked to get tested and self-isolate immediately, and to stay in isolation until your test results are known.

For more information:
31 First Nation communities vaccinated against COVID-19
NWHU preparing to ramp up COVID-19 vaccinations