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Breaking down the recent NACI Guidelines

Earlier this week, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), held a press conference detailing their updated guidance for the COVID-19 vaccine in Canada.

During the press conference, NACI noted “mRNA vaccines are preferred”, causing experts to worry about the repercussions this statement will have on vaccine hesitancy, particularly in regions where COVID rates are currently very high.

Alongside the press conference, a detailed report was published, providing rationale and data behind the updated recommendations. The key takeaway on vaccine types in the report focused on the ability for younger people living in regions where COVID-19 infections are low to look at whether they want to wait a bit longer for an mRNA vaccine. This idea does not hold for those who live in areas with high infection rates of COVID-19.

The report outlined that in an ideal situation – mRNA vaccines are preferred – not due to improved efficacy but due to the absence of risk associated with vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT), the rare but serious side effect reported with the AstraZeneca and J&J vaccine.

The communication shortcoming of the press conference was not clearly stating the context around their choice of words, and that in many parts of Canada, we are not in an ideal situation. For many of us, it is important to weigh the risks and benefits of the vaccines available vs. the risks of COVID-19 infection. As always with communication, clear and effective reporting is crucial to allow for informed decisions.

- Bayley


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