Calgary public health doctor critical expert panel suggests two tiers of vaccines

CALGARY — A Calgary physician says Albertans should still roll up their sleeves for whatever vaccine they are eligible for now rather than waiting for a different brand.

“Right now is not the time to shop vaccines. The best vaccine you can get today is the one you can get today,” said Dr. Jia Hu, public health physician.

Hu said suggestions from Canada’s top vaccine experts on Monday are causing confusion.

“Especially with Alberta’s third wave where we’re definitely like top ten in the world per capita in cases, it’s critically important that people get whatever vaccine they can get as quickly as possible,” said Hu.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) created a stir suggesting there are two tiers of vaccine, with NACI officials calling Pfizer and Moderna preferred vaccines over AstraZeneca and Johnson  and Johnson, which have been linked to rare cases of blood clots.

Hu said NACI plays an important role deciding how vaccines should be used. Provinces then make decisions and can choose to follow the recommendations. Hu said the panel is extremely committed to following science.

“There are some unintended consequences I think of suggesting that we shouldn’t just get whatever we can get as quickly as possible.”

COMPROMISING THE PATH

Health officials stress delaying shots because of brands could compromise the path to herd immunity.

Some Calgarians who just received Pfizer shots at the mass immunization clinic at the Telus Convention Centre say they are thankful for their first dose.

“I would have taken any shot that was available to me,” said Austin Muir.

“It’s hard when the information is constantly changing, the virus is constantly changing,” he added.

“To form an opinion at one point in time… which is why I’m going to leave it to the professionals to tell me where to go (and) when to get it.”

Marla Thibault said she preferred Pfizer or Moderna because there seems to be more supply.

“We were lucky enough that we could stay at home mostly so waiting to get Pfizer was the right choice for us. Had I been out and about every single day then I would have jumped on Astra Zeneca.”

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