The Second Shot…

Well, how do you feel, now that you have, or at least are scheduled for your second shot? The Québec bureaucratic machine worked seamlessly for the first jab, but is now in the weeds for the second.

What’s to blame? Confusion, vacillating science, and bad communication from expert communicators. For example, Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization changed its mind about using the AstraZeneca (new name Vaxzevria) three times, in a month. In Québec and across the country health districts have also had to hire volunteers at call centers and local clinics. No medical experience or organizational skills for many of them, will result in inevitable line ups and confusion. The other hurdle is the need to quickly dispense of some vaccines, rushing to find an arm for some vials approaching expiry dates.

The issue now is whether those who did take the AstraZeneca vaccine or Covishield, can switch to a Pfizer or Moderna. Politicians like that idea because using a mix of different vaccines will help people get fully vaccinated more quickly. Some epidemiologists assure us that mixing an AZ with mRNA vaccines like a Pfizer or Moderna, “will trigger stronger, more robust immune responses”. The same National advisory committee, that changed its mind three times, now recommends mixing is ok. Not sure who believes them now. Quebec and Ontario are on board, primarily because of supply issues. BC’s believable Chief Medical Officer Dr Bonnie Henry, says it’s preferable to receive the same vaccine for both doses, but “it is equally safe and works just as well”, Others will just tell us not to mix, like Public Health England “every effort should be made to give [patients] the same vaccine”. The U.S. is not allowing its citizens to mix vaccines “owing to a lack of data”. And still others are not sure. But what is certain, according to a recent Oxford University study headed by a Prof Matthew Snape, the trial’s chief investigator, “expect chills, fatigue, headache, malaise and muscle ache,”. It would be wise not to administer the vaccine mix to a ward of nurses, on the same day. Says the professor, “you’re sure to have high absenteeism on the floor the next”. The University’s first full report on the mixing effectiveness is due this month.

The second vaccine means so much to so many. Finally, you will be able to do what you have not been able to, forbidden by law in some circumstances. You can now hug, visit, shop, travel inside Canada and soon internationally, eat out, not quarantine, not isolate. Life is back!

But wait, those restaurants and businesses you once ate and shopped at are short staffed. Why? Stay home and get paid. The federal government continues to write those 500 dollar a week cheques (reduced to $300 in July) for 38 weeks under the CERB program. Why work when Justin Trudeau sends me cheques. Still others have had plenty of time to think about their next career move and have switched jobs, professions, are returning to school, or have started their own business. Besides, working front line in the retail industry has become dangerous. This pandemic has resulted in a heightened sensitivity to health and hygiene. One likened working a bar or restaurant as dangerous as going down into a coal mine every day.

People are redrawing the blueprints of their lives. Many are quitting because employers are not flexible about remote work. They want to continue to work from home or from wherever. They save money on clothes, lunches, car expenses, in fact many have sold their cars and switched to two wheels or transit when in need, saving as much as $5 thousand a year. So all these factors are hampering post pandemic recovery with a seemingly record number of job openings available. This will affect the amount of time it takes to receive an on-line item, service at restaurants, curb side pick up, name it.

‘Jobs Canada’ shows 1.5 million results. Statistics Canada recently reported 700 thousand jobs available in Canada. reports a record 250 thousand availabilities on its web site. Not sure which is accurate, maybe they all are because of their filters. Bottom line is, service won’t be as quick, and will cost more.

Are you ready for your third shot? Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla projects the next vaccine requirement within 12 months and in fact, yearly, like a flu shot. Of course, Pfizer wants to sell vaccines. It’s a business after all. But I like Mario Ostrowski’s reasoning, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto. He says “if a new variant causes severe illness to those already vaccinated”, it will then be time to get jabbed again. Until then, seems we’re safe.

That’s What I’m Thinking

Robert Vairo