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HKPR medical officer addresses local vaccine concerns

DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES: Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Natalie Bocking, addressed a couple of vaccine concerns during a virtual press conference on Wednesday, January 12th.

Dr. Bocking said she’s noticed some residents are concerned about getting the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

“We do have an ongoing shortage of adult Pfizer doses of vaccine, and as such, we continue to offer Moderna vaccine for individuals aged 30 and over at health unit-led immunization clinics. There’s sufficient supply certainly for the pediatric dose of Pfizer. Then for individuals aged 12 to 29, the adult Pfizer we do have is being reserved for this age cohort because there is a preferential recommendation for Pfizer vaccination among that age group. We are seeing some people decline [the] Moderna vaccine, either when they come to [a] clinic and realize Pfizer vaccine is not available and they are not under the age of 30, or [when they] have cancelled their appointment [because of it]. I have to admit; I don’t fully understand all of the hesitations around [the] Moderna vaccine, especially when we read the latest data about [the] Moderna vaccine demonstrating a boost in immunity. [It’s] certainly equivalent to [the] Pfizer booster dose, if not slightly better than [the] Pfizer booster dose,” she said.

The slow-moving COVID-19 vaccination rate of children aged five to 11 also remains a concern for the local health unit. Dr. Bocking had a message for parents regarding having their children vaccinated.

“As a parent, I understand that parents make decisions because they want to keep their children safe and healthy. We’re making decisions that are best for our children. COVID-19 vaccines are still relatively new. For being relatively new, they have, however, been used by millions of children in this age group now, both in Canada as well as the United States, for which we have good data on. The safety data is very reassuring,” Dr. Bocking explained. “There has been no indication of more serious adverse effects at a higher level than you’d see in any other vaccines. So the safety data is really there to support its use. And I think the protection level is there as well.”

She added she encourages parents to have their kids vaccinated if they haven’t done so yet.

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