Calgary urgent care doctor says one-dose summer not ideal but it offers hope

Roughly half of all eligible Albertans have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

How safe does that make us?

Dr. Raj Bhardwaj, an urgent care physician in Calgary, says it depends — but there is hope that a one-dose summer might not be so bad.

“I think it’s going to be mostly safe, but the risk is going to be different for different people,” Bhardwaj told the Calgary Eyeopener

“So if you’re a single vaccinated person or if you’re in a family where everybody has had one dose, that’s going to be a different risk situation from an unvaccinated person, or a family who has kids under 12 who can’t yet be vaccinated.”

Bhardwaj said recent studies of vaccine efficacy from around the world have shown there is a significant amount of protection after one dose.

“These results actually give me quite a bit of hope,” he said.

As to how that affects people, Bhardwaj said different people will have different levels of risk, and different ways of managing their risk.

“Risk is not like a light switch. It’s not risk or no risk. It’s more of a dial. So the risk is going to fade out, it’s going to get smaller little by little as more of us get vaccinated,” he said.

“And so the target of per cent vaccinated, or whatever, is actually kind of fuzzy, and I don’t know that we should be relying on just one number.”

Dr. Raj Bhardwaj says that although one-dose vaccinations are going to help, Albertans still have to manage the health risks of COVID-19. (CBC)

Bhardwaj said people still have to be responsible for managing their own risk.

“All the studies show great protection from a single shot, but that it takes about three weeks for your immune system to rev up from that shot,” he said. 

“So you’re not just walking out with a Band-Aid on your arm thinking, ‘OK, my risk is much lower.’ I mean, this combines the two things the humans are terrible at, which is understanding and managing risk and delaying gratification.”

On Tuesday, Alberta reported that more than half of those aged 12 and over were now vaccinated with at least one dose.

“Once the majority of us are three weeks out from vaccination, then the risk of lots of people getting sick and going into hospital all at the same time is going to drop a lot,” Bhardwaj said. “And the risk of a vaccinated person ending up sick enough to end up in hospital is going to drop a lot, too.

“And that’s what that one-dose summer means. It means that finally we’ve got some hope.”

Calgary Eyeopener5:54Dr. Raj Bhardwaj on a one dose summer

Is one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine enough for you to go out and do normal things again? We ask Dr. Raj Bhardwaj what’s safe and what might not be. 5:54

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener

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