COVID Corner | The Ismaili Canada
Main image

COVID Corner

The COVID Corner is the Jamat's easily accessible page for information relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. As updated information is received, it will be made available to the Jamat on this page. Please check back regularly for the most up-to-date COVID-19 related content. 

 

General Information About Vaccines

Emerging evidence shows that all COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in Canada protect against severe disease, hospitalization and death due to COVID-19.  Free vaccines for COVID-19 will be available to everyone who lives in Canada over the course of 2021. Based on the Talika received by Mawlana Hazar Imam on March 18, 2021, the Jamat is encouraged to benefit from the protection these vaccines provide, as indeed the Imam has done already. In particular, the Jamat should not give credence to any misinformation regarding vaccines.

 

To help support the Jamat with the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines, we have compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding the vaccine. This information has been prepared by a multidisciplinary team including specialists in medicine, nursing, pharmacy and public health, based on the most recent evidence available.

Vaccinations - Frequently Asked Questions
Who can receive the vaccine?

Everyone in Canada, including those who aren’t citizens (e.g. migrant workers) can receive the vaccine free of charge if they are ages 12 and older for the Pfizer vaccine, over 18 and older for the Moderna vaccine, and over 30 for the AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines, unless the vaccine is contraindicated (e.g. the person has a proven severe allergic reaction to an ingredient of the vaccine or its packaging).

When can I receive my vaccine?

Canada is expected to have enough vaccines to vaccinate all Canadians before the fall of 2021. Until there’s enough vaccine for everyone in Canada, initial vaccine doses will be prioritized for those at the highest risk of infection and severe disease, as well as those needed to keep society running.  The national recommendations for these priority groups are outlined in the three stages below.[1] The time at which the below priority populations will receive the vaccine may differ between provinces and territories because of differences in local disease patterns and logistics.

Stage 1:

  • Residents and staff of congregate living settings that provide care for seniors (e.g. retirement homes)
  • Adults 70 years of age and older, beginning with adults 80 years of age and older, and then decreasing the age limit by 5-year increments to age 70 years as supply becomes available
  • Health care workers who have direct contact with patients, including those who work in health care settings and personal support workers
  • Adults in Indigenous communities

 

Stage 2 (as vaccine supply increases and people in Stage 1 have been offered vaccines, vaccines will be offered to):

  • Adults in or from Indigenous communities not included in stage 1, including those in urban settings
  • Residents and staff of all shared living settings (e.g. housing for migrant workers, shelters, group homes)
  • Adults 60 years of age and older, beginning with adults 65 years of age and older, then decreasing the age limit to 60 years
  • Adults in racialized and marginalized communities
  • First responders (e.g. police, firefighters)
  • Frontline essential workers who can’t work virtually and have direct close physical contact with the public (e.g. grocery store staff, transportation workers, rotational workers, food production or manufacturing workers, teachers and school or childcare staff not working virtually, postal services, border services)
  • Essential primary caregivers for people who can’t care for themselves and are at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 due to advanced age

 

Stage 3 (as vaccine supply increases and people in Stages 1 and 2 have been offered vaccines, vaccines will be offered to):

  • People 16 to 59 years of age with an underlying medical condition who are at high risk of severe illness due to COVID-19 (and their essential primary caregiver)
  • Adults 50 years of age and older, beginning with adults 55 years of age and older then decreasing the age limit to 50 years
  • Non-frontline healthcare workers needed to maintain healthcare capacity
  • Non-frontline essential workers
Where and how can I get the vaccine?

COVID-19 vaccines are approved for use in Canada are free of charge. Where and how to get your vaccine may differ depending on where you live in Canada. For information on the vaccination rollout plans in your province or territory, please refer to your provincial or territorial website:

Are the vaccines effective?

All COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in Canada help reduce severe disease, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19.

Based on studies in about 44,000 participants, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was ≥ 95% efficacious in preventing COVID-19 disease. Based on studies in about 30,000 patients, the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was 94% efficacious in preventing COVID-19 disease. [2]. In a study of approximately 38,000 patients, the Janssen vaccine was approximately 85% effective at preventing severe disease 28 days after the vaccination. [3] Based on studies in about 11,000 patients enrolled in clinical trials, the AstraZeneca vaccine was 62% efficacious in those 18-64 years of age [2].  In adults 65 years of age and older who received one dose of AstraZeneca vaccine in the real world setting in the United Kingdom, vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 disease and hospitalization appears to reach a comparable level to that observed in clinical trials for those 18-64 years of age. [2,3] It will take about 1-2 weeks after receiving a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to develop protection against COVID-19 disease.

It is important to note that the levels of protection offered by these vaccines cannot be directly compared, because of differences in clinical trial designs and circumstances.  The term “efficacy” refers to the degree of protection in a clinical trial setting, which is well-controlled.  The term “effectiveness” refers to the degree of protection in a real-world setting, which is not as well-controlled.

 

Should I still wear a mask after getting the vaccine?

Yes. The vaccines are effective in preventing COVID-19 disease, but it is still unknown whether they prevent infection. So, you may still be able to spread infection to others even after you are vaccinated. Also, the evidence on how long protection from the vaccines lasts is still being collected. There is evidence that wearing a mask, physically distancing, and handwashing are effective in protecting against COVID-19 infection, so you should continue to do these things even after getting the vaccine to protect yourself and those around you.[2]

How are the vaccines given?

The Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines are given by injection (0.3-0.5 mL) into the muscle of the arm. 

Is one dose of the vaccine enough?

At this time, the national recommendation is to complete a COVID-19 vaccine series with two doses of the same vaccine product for the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines.[3] The Janssen vaccine is the only vaccine approved in Canada as a single dose. In the clinical trials, two doses were provided 3 weeks apart for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, 4 weeks apart for the Moderna vaccine and up to 12 weeks apart for the AstraZeneca vaccine. However, because vaccine supply is limited, the second dose in the vaccine series may be delayed up to four months in order to provide more protection for more people with a single dose. Evidence has shown that all vaccines are highly protective even with just one dose, [4] however the second dose is important for longer term protection, and for better protection against some of the variants. The recommendations on the interval between doses may change as the results of studies become available. A second dose is recommended for the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines, though it may be delayed.

Are the vaccines safe/what are possible side effects?

Health Canada has conducted a rigorous scientific review of the available medical evidence to assess the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is an independent scientific advisory group of experts that also reviews all of the evidence and makes the recommendations on the use of COVID-19 vaccines.[3] These COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and the benefits outweigh any potential risks for the populations that the vaccines that recommended for. Groundwork for a safe and effective vaccine had already been laid after the first SARS coronavirus outbreaks in 2002-2004 and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus outbreaks in recent years.[5] Canada is recognized around the world for its high standards in reviewing, approving, and monitoring medications and vaccines. These high standards have not been compromised for the COVID-19 vaccines. 

 

The side effects that followed COVID-19 vaccine administration in clinical trials were mild or moderate and went away within 1-2 days. These included things like pain at the site of injection, body chills, joint pain, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, feeling tired and feeling feverish.[3]  If you experience these side effects, you can put a cold compress on the injection site and move your arm around to reduce pain and swelling, rest, drink fluids, and take acetaminophen or ibuprofen AFTER vaccination.

 

The Ismaili Imamat and its institutions have a long history of supporting and promoting vaccination to improve health. In 1897, Imam Sultan Muhammed Shah played a major role in stopping the spread of Bubonic Plague in Bombay. He was immunized in front of a large crowd to show people that vaccinations are nothing to be afraid of. To this day, educating people about vaccination is an important part of the work of The Aga Khan Health Services and The Aga Khan Health Boards. 

 

Recently, due to robust monitoring systems globally, very rare cases of serious blood clots following receipt of the AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines have been detected.  This condition is being referred to as Vaccine-Induced Immune Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia [VITT] or Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS).  Cases of VITT following the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine were first seen in Europe where the AstraZeneca vaccine has been widely used. The rate of this very rare adverse event in Canada is estimated to be around 1 in 83,000 doses of AstraZeneca, however, as investigations continue, this rate could be as high as 1 in 55,000. Cases have also been reported very rarely after vaccination with the Janssen vaccines in the United States. Symptoms in these cases usually occur between 4 and 28 days after receipt of the vaccine. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can reduce the risk of serious outcomes of this adverse event.[3] Especially in areas where COVID-19 continues to infect people and there is a delay to receive an mRNA vaccine, the risk of the complications of COVID-19 is higher than the rare risk of VITT after vaccination with the AstraZeneca or Janssen vaccines.

What about children?

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is authorized by Health Canada for individuals 12 years and older. This vaccine was recently authorized for individuals 12-15 years of age based on a clinical trial involving 2,260 adolescents 12 to 15 years of age. The Phase 3 clinical trial showed 100% efficacy of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for preventing symptomatic COVID-19 in this age group and similar rates of reactions compared to adults based on follow-up from the trial to date (e.g. pain at the site of injection, body chills, joint pain, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, feeling tired and feeling feverish). These can be treated with cold compresses and/or painkillers or anti-inflammatories (e.g. Tylenol or Ibuprofen) AFTER vaccination if they occur.

Moderna’s vaccine is currently authorized for ages 18 and up. The AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines are currently authorized for ages 18 and up, however, they are currently recommended for those aged 30 and up based on a benefit-risk analysis. Clinical trials with other vaccines are also underway for younger children and adolescents.  

Children, in general, are not at an increased risk of severe disease if infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.  However, children or adolescents with certain underlying medical conditions (e.g. Down’s Syndrome, diabetes) may be at an increased risk of severe COVID-19 disease resulting in hospitalization or death. Some children or adolescents are at an increased risk of exposure to the virus (e.g. living in a group home).[3] The evidence on COVID-19 in children is evolving.

Although the risk of hospitalization, admission to ICU and death associated with COVID-19 is infrequent in this age group in general, we have seen that adolescents can still experience severe illness. The availability of this vaccine for adolescents in Canada will allow them to resume the activities that are so central to their health and well-being, including in-person schooling, events with friends and family, and extracurricular activities, in accordance with local public health measures.[3]

What if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

The Canadian National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) preferentially recommends that a complete two-dose vaccine series with an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) should be offered to individuals in the authorized age group who are pregnant or breastfeeding. If they are not able to receive an mRNA vaccine, for example because of an allergy, another authorized COVID-19 vaccine should be offered.

A recently published preliminary analysis of 35,691 pregnant women in the United States who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine did not reveal any obvious safety signals. [10] Also, analysis of data collected through international COVID-19 immunization registries to date have not revealed any maternal or infant safety signals.[3] Vaccination of pregnant women has been strongly supported by physician groups because in areas of the country where “variants of concern” are circulating, there has been increased concern about the severity of COVID-19 among pregnant women who are getting extremely sick, very quickly, and being admitted to ICUs in increased numbers.[11]

COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are not live vaccines and, based on their biologic mechanism, mRNA vaccines are not hypothesized to be a risk to breastfeeding infants. One small study found that mRNA from COVID-19 vaccines was undetectable in breastmilk 4-48 hours post-vaccination.[3]  

International real world data (mostly with mRNA vaccines – Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) showed that COVID-19 vaccines are safe in pregnant and breastfeeding women. As such, NACI’s recommendation to receive a COVID-19 vaccine for those who are pregnant or are breastfeeding are now the same as the recommendations for the general adult population.[3]

Is it safe to get the COVID-19 vaccine if I have an underlying condition?

Yes. The authorized vaccines are similarly safe and efficacious in those with one or more underlying conditions (for example, body mass index ≥30 kg/m2, chronic pulmonary disease, diabetes mellitus, cardiac disease).[3] Also, since those with underlying conditions are more susceptible to severe COVID-19 disease, they benefit most from protection against the disease offered by vaccines. There is strong evidence that individuals with certain medical conditions (e.g., Type 1 and 2 diabetes, down syndrome, end-stage kidney disease, epilepsy, and neurologic disorders such as motor neuron disease, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis and Huntington’s disease) have at least a 2-fold increased risk of death from COVID-19.[3] It is especially important for individuals with these medical conditions get vaccinated.

Immunosuppression and Autoimmune Conditions

The Canadian National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) preferentially recommends that a complete two-dose vaccine series with an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) should be offered to individuals in the authorized age group, including those who are immunosuppressed or have an autoimmune condition. If they are not able to receive an mRNA vaccine, for example because of an allergy, another authorized COVID-19 vaccine should be offered. [3]

We have seen very encouraging evidence for COVID-19 vaccines (primarily mRNA vaccines – Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) in populations with immunosuppression or autoimmune conditions. Studies of mRNA vaccines in individuals receiving immunosuppressive therapy, solid organ transplant recipients, cancer patients and individuals with chronic inflammatory diseases have shown that these vaccines are safe in these individuals. Studies of mRNA and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines suggest that the immune response may be lower in these populations. Therefore, it is especially important that individuals who are immunosuppressed due to disease or treatment be especially careful to reduce their risk of infection by wearing masks, physically distancing, and washing their hands even after vaccination.

Given the ongoing risks of COVID-19 exposure and severe disease in Canada, NACI is strongly recommending vaccination for people with autoimmune or immunosuppressive conditions.[3] COVID-19 vaccination in these populations is especially important because of evidence suggesting that people who are immunosuppressed (e.g., those with cancer) or have certain autoimmune conditions (e.g., diabetes, multiple sclerosis) are at an increased risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19.

What if I have a history of severe allergy (e.g. anaphylaxis)?

Individuals with common allergies to medications, foods, inhalants, venoms, and latex are no more likely than the general public to have an allergic reaction to the COVID-19 vaccines.[3] People with severe allergies (e.g. anaphylaxis) to an ingredient in a given COVID-19 vaccine should not receive it. These cases are rare. If you are a person who has a history of severe allergic reactions (e.g. if you carry an epinephrine auto injector), speak with your health professional before receiving the vaccine. 

 

The list of ingredients for each vaccine is available at the links below:

Pfizer-BioNTech

Moderna

AstraZeneca 

Janssen

 

The potential non-medicinal ingredients in the vaccines known to cause allergic reactions (ranging from mild skin reactions to severe anaphylactic reactions) are as follows [3]*. If you are a person who has a history of severe allergic reactions (e.g. if you carry an epinephrine auto injector), speak with your health professional before receiving the vaccine:

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19

  • Polyethylene glycol (PEG), which is also found in over the counter products (e.g., cough syrup, laxatives), prescription medications, medical bowel preparation products for colonoscopy, skin care products, dermal fillers, cosmetics, contact lens care solutions, and products such as ultrasound gel.

Moderna COVID-19

  • PEG, which is also found in over the counter products (e.g., cough syrup, laxatives), prescription medications, medical bowel preparation products for colonoscopy, skin care products, dermal fillers, cosmetics, contact lens care solutions, and products such as ultrasound gel.

  • Tromethamine (trometamol or Tris), which is also found in contrast media, oral and intravenous medications.

AstraZeneca COVID-19

  • Polysorbate 80, which is also found in medical preparations (e.g., vitamin oils, tablets, and anticancer agents), and cosmetics.

Janssen COVID-19

  • Polysorbate 80, also found in medical preparations (e.g., vitamin oils, tablets, and anticancer agents), cosmetics

 *This may not be a complete list

Should I get vaccinated if I have symptoms of COVID-19?

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization, an independent scientific advisory group of experts, recommends waiting to receive the vaccine until after symptoms of COVID-19 have resolved and you are no longer considered infectious (able to spread the infection to others).[3] The reason that you should wait until your symptoms have resolved and your isolation period is over is so that you don’t transmit the infection to others, and also so that there is no potential confounding from symptoms of COVID-19 or other co-existing illnesses that could be confused for adverse events from the vaccine.  There is no known detrimental effect to vaccination of individuals who have previously had COVID-19.  There have been cases of re-infection with the virus in those previously infected, so you should get the vaccine to protect yourself.

How do I get my COVID-19 vaccine once I am eligible?

COVID-19 vaccines are currently being delivered to the high-risk groups listed under the FAQ “When can I receive my vaccine?”. However, as supplies increase, vaccines will be made available to all Canadians in municipally-run vaccination sites, mobile vaccination sites, pharmacies, clinics and primary care settings. Most of these venues will have online or telephone booking for the vaccine in advance. You can expect to be greeted by a healthcare professional when you arrive who will check your ID or health card, go over a consent form and gather basic health information. You would then receive your vaccination (often performed by a nurse), and can return home after the standard 15-minute monitoring period. Some centers confirm a booking for the second vaccine dose to facilitate scheduling, at which time one would return for the second and final dose. The appointment for the second dose may need to be rescheduled depending on vaccine supply.

Should I get a vaccine if I have already had COVID-19 and recovered?

Yes. Receiving a vaccine after you have already had COVID-19 can help to prevent a second COVID-19 infection, which has been reported in several cases. Although some areas with limited vaccine supply may first vaccinate those who have not had confirmed COVID-19 infection previously, the vaccine can and should be administered to people who have had COVID-19.[3] There is no known detrimental effect to vaccination of individuals who have previously had COVID-19.  

I can get natural immunity to COVID-19. Why should I get a vaccine?

Getting COVID-19 might offer some natural protection. Current research suggests that reinfection with COVID-19 is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection. However, experts don’t know for certain how long this protection lasts, and the risks of death, severe illness or long-term lingering symptoms from COVID-19 far outweighs any benefits of natural immunity. COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you by creating an antibody response from your immune system without having to experience COVID-19 sickness.[8]

Can mRNA vaccines alter genes or change DNA?

No, mRNA vaccines do not change your DNA. The mRNA is like a post-it note with a recipe. The recipe has instructions to create the spike protein found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. Once the protein is made, the mRNA or 'recipe' is destroyed by the enzymes in our cells. This is why mRNA doesn't stay in our body for long. The spike protein created by the mRNA will allow your immune system to build a response and begin making antibodies to protect you.

If I received the AstraZeneca vaccine first, should I get the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine for my second dose?

The Canadian National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends that either an AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine or an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine product (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) may be offered for the second dose in a vaccine series started with an AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The previous dose should be counted, and the series need not be restarted.

 

The recommendation to offer an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) as the second dose is based on expert opinion and on the following elements:

  • The risk of Vaccine-Induced Immune Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia (VITT) after the first and second doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine
  • The possibility that mixing vaccine types may actually increase immune protection
  • Three separate studies including a total of over 1000 people have so far demonstrated excellent effectiveness and safety when a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was given as a second dose after an AstraZeneca vaccine as the first dose [3]

 

Similar vaccines from different manufacturers are routinely used interchangeably, particularly during transitions between public health programs over time and when vaccine supply changes. Examples include different vaccine products in a vaccine series for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. General vaccine principles indicate that to be considered interchangeable, vaccines should be used for the same purpose, have similar schedules, produce comparable type(s) of immune responses, and be similar in terms of safety and effectiveness.

 

Since all currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines in Canada teach the immune system to protect against the same spike protein of the COVID-19 virus, COVID-19 vaccines meet the criteria above for interchangeability.

 

Following the emerging evidence on the risk of VITT that is associated with the use of viral vector vaccines (AstraZeneca and Janssen), several European countries advised that people could complete the two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series initiated with an AstraZeneca vaccine with a dose of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) rather than a second dose of the AstraZeneca or Janssen vaccine. Three studies including 1239 participants have shown excellent effectiveness and safety when a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was given as a second dose after an AstraZeneca vaccine as the first dose [3]. Mild-moderate side effects like fatigue, muscle pain and headache occurred with similar frequency for those receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine for both doses vs. the AstraZeneca vaccine followed by the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Most symptoms occurred within 48 hours after immunization and were short lived.

If I received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine first, should I get the same vaccine for my second dose?

The Canadian National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends that, if available, the same mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) should be offered for the second dose in a vaccine series started with an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. However, when the same mRNA COVID-19 vaccine product is not readily available, or is unknown, another mRNA COVID-19 vaccine product recommended for use in that age group can be considered interchangeable and should be offered to complete the vaccine series. The previous dose should be counted, and the series does not need to be restarted.

 

Currently, no data exist on the interchangeability of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna), however, there is no reason to believe that vaccine series completion with a different authorised mRNA vaccine product would result in any additional safety issues or deficiency in protection.

 

Should I get the AstraZeneca or Janssen COVID-19 vaccine sooner or wait to get the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine?

Emerging evidence shows that all of these vaccines protect against severe disease, hospitalization and death due to COVID-19. COVID-19 and “variants of concern” continue to circulate in Canada and cause severe disease, hospitalization and death. The Canadian National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) continues to preferentially recommend authorized mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. NACI has recommended that the AstraZeneca and Janssen COVID-19 vaccines may be offered to individuals 30 years of age and older without contraindications (any health conditions that would heighten the risk of the vaccine causing harm), if the individual does not wish to wait for an mRNA vaccine and the benefits outweigh the risk.[3]

 

There have been very rare cases of serious blood clots associated with low levels of platelets reported following receipt of the AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines.  This condition is being referred to as Vaccine-Induced Immune Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia [VITT] or Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS), and was detected through robust monitoring systems globally. The rate of this very rare adverse event in Canada is estimated to be 1 in 83,000 doses administered. Cases have also been reported after vaccination with the Janssen vaccines in the United States.

 

NACI continues to preferentially recommend authorized mRNA COVID-19 vaccines due to the excellent protection they provide, the absence of safety signals of concern and the acceptability of the vaccines by people in Canada.[3] We are lucky in Canada because the supply of mRNA vaccines is increasing, and we will have enough to vaccinate all eligible Canadians with their first dose by the summer of 2021. However, if there are limitations in vaccine supplies, some people may have to wait to receive an mRNA vaccine and could get very sick with COVID-19 in the meantime.

 

NACI has recommended that the AstraZeneca and Janssen COVID-19 vaccines may be offered to individuals 30 years of age and older without contraindications, if the individual does not wish to wait for an mRNA vaccine and the benefits outweigh the risk.[3] NACI has assessed the risk of developing and dying from VITT, compared to COVID-19 ICU admissions and deaths that could be prevented by an early dose of the AstraZeneca or Janssen COVID-19 vaccines under various COVID-19 disease rates. Based on this analysis, NACI determined that especially in areas of moderate, high or very high activity of COVID-19, the benefit of vaccination with the AstraZeneca or Janssen vaccine outweighs the risk at a population level if there is a substantial delay to receive an mRNA vaccine. Provinces and territories will look at the COVID-19 situation is in your area before offering the AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccine to certain age groups in whom the benefit of earlier vaccination outweighs the risk of waiting for an mRNA vaccine.

 

NACI recommends the AstraZeneca or Janssen COVID-19 vaccines may be offered to individuals 30 years of age and older without contraindications if the individual does not wish to wait for an mRNA vaccine and if the following conditions are met:

  • A benefit-risk analysis determines that the benefit of earlier vaccination with the AstraZeneca or Janssen COVID-19 vaccine outweighs the risk of the individual getting COVID-19 while waiting for an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine;
  • The individual provides informed consent once the benefits and risks of VITT compared to COVID-19 are clearly outlined, including how long the individual will have to wait for an mRNA vaccine and what public health measures the individual is able to take to minimize their exposure to the COVID-19 virus; and
  • The individual will have to wait a long time in order to receive an mRNA vaccine.

 

When determining your individual level of risk for COVID-19, consider your risk of exposure to COVID-19, your risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and how long you will have to wait to receive an mRNA vaccine. Anyone can be infected with SARS-CoV-2. However, some populations are at increased risk of exposure to the virus (e.g., working or living in settings where physical distancing is difficult), and some populations are at increased risk of severe disease and death (e.g., older individuals, people with certain chronic illnesses). For example, if you live in an area of the country where COVID-19 is circulating widely and you work in a job or live in a setting where you come into close contact with lots of people, you may wish to get the AstraZeneca or Janssen vaccine if you will have to wait a long time to get the mRNA vaccine based on your jurisdiction’s priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination. 

 

VITT usually occurs between 4-28 days after receipt of the AstraZeneca or Janssen vaccine and serious outcomes from VITT may be reduced with early diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Individuals who receive the AstraZeneca or Janssen COVID-19 vaccine should monitor their health and immediately seek medical attention if they develop symptoms of VITT, including shortness of breath, chest or abdominal pain, leg swelling, severe headaches or blurred vision, and skin bruising or a skin rash. Tell your healthcare professionals when you received the AstaZeneca or Janssen vaccine so they can diagnose and treat the condition. Quick diagnosis and treatment is critical to reduce the risk of negative outcomes. Of note, VITT has not been identified following receipt of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna).[9]

 

More information on different vaccines is provided in this short video on CBC by Dr. Samir Gupta entitled "Which COVID-19 vaccine is better? (spoiler, they're all good)"

What should I do before and after my immunization appointment?

Recommendations before your immunization appointment:

  • Wear a short-sleeve shirt
  • Eat and drink water before your appointment
  • Wear your mask
  • Bring required ID (e.g. Health card)
  • Bring your immunization record and/or download the CANImmunize app to keep track of your doses
  • Tell the provider if you have felt faint with other procedures – they may ask you to lie down

 

Recommendations for after your immunization appointment:

  • Wait 15 minutes, or 30 minutes if there are concerns about severe allergic reactions. If you are feeling unwell – inform a health care provider
  • Call 911 if you develop serious symptoms, like an allergic reaction. This can include: hives, swelling of face/tongue/throat, or difficulty breathing
  • Call your healthcare provider or clinic if feeling unwell when you go home
  • Drink water
  • Put a cold compress on the site of injection if you have swelling or pain
  • Take anti-fever or anti-pain medication if you need to for side effects
  • Schedule your 2nd dose
  • Keep following public health recommendations (e.g. wear a mask, physically distance, wash your hands, avoid international travel)
  • Wait 28 days before getting a non-COVID-19 vaccine
  • Wait 28 days before getting pregnant
What should I do if I have a fear of needles?

It is normal to have a fear of needles – this can be common in both children and adults. In some people, the fear of needles can be excessive and may prevent them from getting vaccinations done. To help support Jamati members who might have a fear of needles, a list of strategies is available here.

Where can I find COVID-19 information and resources in other languages?

Please visit the following links to access COVID-19 information in different languages:

Multilingual Resource Websites:

  1. Government of Canada COVID-19 Awareness Resources (Arabic, French, Farsi, Urdu, Tamil and more)
  2. Public Health Ontario Multilingual COVID-19 Resources (French, Gujarati, Hindi, Tamil, Urdu and more)
  3. COVID-19 Resources from the Canadian Muslim COVID-19 Task Force (Arabic, Farsi, French, Gujarati, Turkish, Urdu and more)
  4. COVID-19 Resources from the Immigrant Education Society (Arabic, Farsi, French, Hindi, Tamil, Urdu and more)
  5. COVID-19 Myths Answered from the British Islamic Medical Association (Arabic, French, Gujarati, Tamil, Urdu, Kurdish and more)
  6. Multilingual Information on COVID-19 Vaccinations from City of Toronto (French, Gujarati, Dari, Arabic, Urdu, Hindi)
  7. Alberta International Medical Graduates Association COVID-19 Video Resources (Arabic, Hindi, Urdu and more)

Urdu Resources:

  1. COVID-19 Factsheet from the Government of Alberta
  2. What is COVID-19? (video)
  3. How to Prevent COVID-19? (video)
  4. Signs and symptoms of COVID-19? (video)
  5. How do I protect myself from COVID-19? (video)
  6. Enhanced public health measures in Alberta as of November 24th (video)

 

Gujarati Resources: 

  1. COVID-19 Myths Answered from the British Islamic Medical Association 
  2. COVID-19 Vaccine Information from City of Toronto

 

Farsi Resources:

  1. What is COVID-19? (video)
  2. What is Physical Distancing and why is it important? (video)
  3. When to seek medical treatment? (video)

Disclaimer: The content provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment related to COVID-19, or any other medical condition. Always consult your physician or other health care provider before making any health care decisions related to COVID-19 or any other medical condition to better understand the risks related to prevention and treatment. 

The Ismaili

Contact Us

His Highness Prince Aga Khan Shia Imami Ismaili Council for Canada

49 Wynford Drive Toronto, Ontario M3C 1K1 CANADA

Tel: +1-416-646-6965

Stay Connected

Subscribe to the Al-Akhbar newsletter today. Join over 40,000 people who receive weekly local, national and international news.

Sign-Up

Download the iiCanada App

Download on the App Store Download on the Google Play