Tackle the Latest COVID-19 Vaccine Questions

You can use emerging evidence to answer common questions about COVID-19 vaccines...and encourage patients to get fully vaccinated.

Be ready to filter out the noise and share the bottom line.

Viral variants. So far, COVID-19 vaccines seem to be working against current variants...including the "Delta" variant.

For optimal protection, urge unvaccinated patients to get vaccinated ASAP...or those who've had just one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to complete the 2-dose series, if applicable.

Expect COVID-19 vaccine boosters to be coming...to address evolving variants and extend duration of protection after the initial series.

Rare adverse events. Reports from the Canadian Adverse Events Following Immunization Surveillance System often get buzz.

Help put these reports in context.

Explain that reports alone can't determine cause and effect.

But clarify that Health Canada uses these data to rapidly spot unusual trends and investigate. For example, point out that recent reports of myocarditis show this safety system is working.

Pregnancy. So far, pregnancy complications (miscarriage, etc) with mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are similar to background rates.

Continue to encourage COVID-19 vaccination in pregnant patients...and help them make an informed decision. Point out that pregnant patients are at higher risk for severe COVID-19.

Immunocompromised patients. Early evidence with mRNA COVID-19 vaccines suggests they're safe in this population.

For instance, adverse effects are in line with other patients...and the vaccines don't seem to trigger autoimmune disease flares.

But immune response after vaccination may be blunted in some patients...such as after an organ transplant or those on chronic steroids.

It's too soon to say how antibody response correlates with COVID-19 protection...so don't suggest antibody testing after vaccination.

Continue to vaccinate immunocompromised patients.

Use our FAQ, Communicating About COVID-19 Vaccination, to address other questions...including whether immunization affects fertility, breastfeeding, or timing of other vaccines.

Key References

  • www.canada.ca/content/dam/phac-aspc/documents/services/immunization/national-advisory-committee-on-immunization-naci/recommendations-use-covid-19-vaccines/recommendations-use-covid-19-vaccines-en.pdf (6-24-21)
  • www.ontariomidwives.ca/sites/default/files/SOGC_Statement_COVID-19_Vaccination_in_Pregnancy%20-%20May%204%202021.pdf (6-24-21)
  • Ann Rheum Dis Published online Mar 24, 2021; doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2021-220272
  • JAMA 2021;325(21):2204-6
  • medRxiv Published online Apr 9, 2021; doi:10.1101/2021.04.05.21254656
Pharmacy Technician's Letter. July 2021, No. 370701

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