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

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Deb McDougall - photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

Most Read