Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday dismissed an advisory panel of doctors’ ranking of Covid vaccines according to safety, saying Canadians should take whichever jab is offered to them first.
“Every single vaccine available in Canada has been approved by Health Canada as safe and effective,” Trudeau told a news conference.
“It is a good thing that we get to hear from a broad range of medical experts and doctors making recommendations to keep us safe. But the bottom line is we need to, all of us, get vaccinated as quickly as possible so we can get back to normal,” he said.
“The reality is, the way we get through this pandemic is to get vaccinated with whatever vaccine is offered to us.”
Trudeau and his wife last month received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, seeking to reassure Canadians it is safe. Later, an AstraZeneca shot was linked to a blood clotting death in Canada.
On Monday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (Naci), recommended possibly waiting for a “preferred” mRNA jab such as Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna if a person’s risk of contracting Covid is low, instead of the AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
The latter two have been linked to blood clotting in a few rare cases, which Naci’s Shelley Deeks said posed “a safety risk”.
“Although it’s very rare, it is very serious,” she said on Monday. “And so individuals need to have an informed choice to be vaccinated with the first vaccine that’s available or to wait for an mRNA vaccine.”
Canada’s inoculation drive was slow to get started and has struggled with repeated delivery delays, but appears to be back on track with millions of doses expected over the coming months.
“On a personal level,” the prime minister said on Tuesday, “I am extremely pleased that I got the AstraZeneca vaccine weeks ago.
“It was extremely important to me to be able to protect my loved ones, to protect my family.”
“The impacts of catching Covid are far greater and far deadlier, as we’ve seen across the country, than potential side effects (of the vaccine), which although serious are rare.”
Canada has approved for use the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, although it has not yet started distributing the Johnson & Johnson jab.
To date, more than 13 million Canadians or 34% of the population has received at least one dose.
The number of Covid infections, meanwhile, has topped 1.2 million, including 24,000 deaths.