Older adults and their caregivers have questions about the vaccine, from its safety and effectiveness, to questions about timelines. As with all things COVID-19 related, it is important to get your information from reputable sources. To save you time and energy, we have done the leg work, so to speak, and draw on expert sources to answer common questions about the vaccine.
Reputable sources of vaccine information
The internet is a wonderful thing for access to information about virtually everything. The challenge can be to determine what is fact and what is opinion or misinformation. With so much information and misinformation, it can be hard to know who or what to believe. In the world of health and wellness and medicine, you want your sources to be up-to-date and based on science, research and best practices. There used to be a detective program on television (Dragnet) that has a line associated with that show that seems to fit the current situation: “Just the facts, ma’am”. That’s wise advice today as we navigate our way through this COVID-10 pandemic and are now at the stage of having access to vaccines.
The Public Health Agency of Canada is an excellent source for up-to-date medical and scientific advice about the COVID-19 vaccination. This is an agency of the Government of Canada (federal government) responsible for public health, and infectious and chronic disease control and prevention.
A second reputable source of information and guidance is the National Institute on Aging, which is a public policy and research centre in Canada. The NIA has just released an extremely helpful report, one which draws on leading experts to answer common questions people have about the COVID-19 vaccines. And the focus is on older Canadians. This is a welcome report for those who want scientific answers and guidance presented in clear, accessible language.
Approved vaccines for use in Canada (as of March 15, 2021)
|Vaccine||Date authorized for use in Canada||Doses (2nd dose, 4 to 12 weeks later)|
|Pfizer-BioNTech||December 9 2020||2|
|Moderna||December 23, 2020||2|
|AstraZeneca||February 26, 2021||2|
|Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)||March 5, 2021||1|
Why get a COVID-19 vaccine?
Vaccines are the best way to protect ourselves and those around us from serious illnesses like
The vaccine is recommended even if you have already contracted COVID-19. Why? Because reinfection is possible. Early evidence suggests that natural immunity may not last longer than several months.
The vaccine is not a license to abandon public health measures
While the vaccine reduces the risk of you getting sick and dying with the virus, it does not stop you catching and spreading it. It is still necessary, therefore, to follow the public health measures after receiving the vaccine. You know the drill: hand hygiene, stay home when sick, maintain physical distancing, and wear a face mask as appropriate. limit inside gatherings.
COVID-19 vaccine a result of decades of research
While the vaccine for COVID-19 has captured the attention of all of us, many of us are probably unaware that the research for other strains of the coronavirus has been going on for literally decades. Increased funding and collaboration between scientists sped up the development and testing of the COVID-19 vaccine. That is, no shortcuts have been made in terms of either safety or effectiveness.
Side effects for older adults are no different than for rest of the population.
Vaccine side effects mean that the body’s immune system is kicking in and getting ready to recognize and fight of the virus. Vaccine side effects may include a sore arm where you were injected, a headache, muscle aches, fatigue,
fever or diarrhea that can last for a day or two, and rarely more than a few days. If side effects last longer than two days, contact your doctor.
People should NOT take acetaminophen (also known as Tylenol) or other anti-inflammatory drugs before getting vaccinated to prevent postvaccination symptoms.
Theoretically, acetaminophens, like Tylenol, could weaken a person’s immune system and make the vaccine less effective. They can be taken after receiving the vaccine if experiencing side effects.
When will we be able to resume our pre-COVID lives?
Vaccinations are the key to resuming our pre-COVID-19 lives. You may have herd of community or ‘herd immunity’. An infectious disease specialist describes it this way: “The idea of herd immunity is that you have enough people in the population who are immune [to a virus] and you’re either immune because you had the infection already, or you’ve been vaccinated”. If you have enough people who are immune in the population, then the infection won’t spread as easily.
Experts state that we will have likely to have achieved this ‘herd immunity’ when more than 80 % of Canadians get vaccinated. This may allow us to a return to a level of normalcy.
The Canadian government states that every Canadian who wants a COVID-19 vaccine will be able to get one by September, 2021.
When and where can I get vaccinated?
In terms of timing, and where you can get vaccinated, the federal government provides up-to-date information for each province and territory. Just click on the relevant province link:
- British Columbia
- New Brunswick
- Newfoundland and Labrador
- Northwest Territories
- Nova Scotia
- Prince Edward Island
Consult your doctor
Older adults are advised to consult their doctor if they have questions regarding the regarding the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine for them. Your doctor will know your medical situation/condition best and they will also be able to inform you of the latest information and advice.
Have you or someone you know had the vaccine yet? We would love to hear from you.