Several family doctors and physician associations across Canada say they welcome questions from anyone concerned about second doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca or any other COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Several family doctors and physician associations across Canada say they welcome questions from anyone concerned about second doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca or any other COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Family doctors say they can answer vaccine questions, after Trudeau recommends them

Dr. Eben Strydom, a generalist in Melfort, Sask., said he’s happy to answer the call

Several family doctors and physician associations across Canada say they welcome questions from anyone concerned about second doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca or any other COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Eben Strydom, a generalist in Melfort, Sask., said he’s happy to answer the call recommended by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau if it means giving his patients confidence in the vaccines.

“This is our ticket out of the pandemic so it is critically important,” Strydom said. “If it means you’re going to take it or not, you should speak to your doctor.”

Trudeau said this week his own doctor recommended he get a second dose of AstraZeneca when it’s his turn, adding that he knows scientists are also studying the effectiveness of mixing and matching vaccines.

Health Canada, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization and provincial health officials make recommendations about how and when Canadians can get vaccinated, Trudeau added.

“I certainly encourage all Canadians to talk to their doctors.”

More than two million Canadians got AstraZeneca for their first jab.

Since then, Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan said they would reserve remaining doses for second shots due to limited supply. Ontario paused its use over concerns about rare blood clots.

Keir Johnson, a spokesperson for Manitoba Doctors, said physicians are keeping up with the new evidence and shifting recommendations but it’s understandable why the pauses and shifting eligibility could create concern for the public.

The association has a campaign encouraging anyone with concerns to speak with a doctor and in most cases members report that patients feel more confident after that conversation, Johnson said.

“Because physicians are a trusted voice, they’re often able to reassure people to help them understand the current benefits and risks,” he said.

That said, there has not been any deluge of new questions since Trudeau’s recommendation, he added.

Dr. Noah Ivers, a family doctor at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, said the pandemic has prompted some doctors to engage with their patients in new ways.

He and some colleagues have started holding virtual town halls to address common questions. A town hall on COVID-19 vaccines attracted about 1,000 participants who could type in questions and upvote the most popular ones.

“It’s gone so well, I started to wonder why we didn’t do it before,” he said.

On an individual basis, family doctors also have the benefit of knowing a patient’s health history. If an individual has had a recent kidney transplant, for example, a physician may recommend a shorter gap between doses than for a totally healthy individual, he said.

Generally speaking, he said he tells his patients the same thing he tells his parents, whose first jab was AstraZeneca.

“We are in no rush to figure this out and we’re waiting for information,” Ivers said, adding the recommended gap between doses means there’s plenty of time for more research on mixing of manufacturers and blood clot risks.

Of course, not everyone has access to a family doctor. The Liberals’ own 2019 platform promised to make sure every Canadian has access to a family doctor or primary health-care team, noting nearly five million Canadians don’t have access.

Ivers said vaccine hesitancy is another reason why governments should be making access to a family doctor a priority.

“I think this is one in a million reasons why you really need to get connected to a primary care professional,” he said.

“It’s time to write a letter to your MP and MPP about how important primary care is,” he said.

Dr. Matthew Chow, president of Doctors of BC, said like Ivers, other doctors are finding new ways to interact and share information widely with their patients.

The South Asian COVID Task Force — a volunteer organization made up of physicians, researchers and others — has chapters across the country. They are sharing culturally appropriate communications about COVID-19 in multiple South Asian languages, he said.

Doctors understand the pandemic has been tough on the public in many ways and keeping track of shifting evidence is one of them, he said.

However, family doctors are evidence-based practitioners who take their information and best guidance from federal authorities such as Health Canada and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, who in turn are monitoring international evidence, he said.

“We can be confident those recommendations will be safe,” he said.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Justin Trudeauvaccines

Just Posted

Rick Ruppenthal of Saltair will host a 12-hour talk-a-thon Friday, June 18 over Facebook live. (Photo submitted)
Talk-a-thon to focus on men’s mental health issues

Saltair man spearheading a campaign to generate more conversation during fundraiser

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

Mariah Segee (centre) was named 2021 Lady of the Lake last Saturday, with Megan Rowbottom (left) as first princess, and Macey Anderson (right) as second princess. (Submitted)
Lady of the Lake returns to Lake Cowichan

Mariah Segee takes the crown in first pageant since 2018

Darren Campbell's truck was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch (pictured) on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
UPDATE: Cowichan Bay Good Samaritan’s stolen truck recovered

‘Very much appreciated the help from so many people. I hope the very best for all of you’

Threads N Tails owner Lee-Ann Burke’s pet clothing has been featured on the cover of the June/July issue of Pet Connection Magazine. (Submitted)
Lake Cowichan business featured on magazine cover

Lee-Ann Burke hopes the extra publicity will increase sales

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Graeme Roberts, who was mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-86, died this month at age 89. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Community Archives)
City of Nanaimo flags at half-mast as former mayor Graeme Roberts dies at 89

‘Giant-killer’ beat out Frank Ney in mayoral election in 1984

Most Read