By Mike Renzella
The Haldimand Press
HALDIMAND—A new statement issued late last week by Ontario’s Ministry of Health calls for the Moderna vaccine to no longer be administered to anyone under the age of 25 going forward, with Pfizer now being the only vaccine recommended for that age range.
Haldimand Norfolk Health Unit’s COVID Vaccine Team Lead Sarah Page explained, “With some further research … the rates of myocarditis and pericarditis are higher in patients, especially those aged 18-24, especially males, and especially in second doses. In order to address that moving forward, the Ministry of Health has come down with a rationalization that states that only Pfizer is given under the age of 25 at this point.”
According to information released by Health Canada, although there are no recorded fatalities, the risk of contracting myocarditis or pericarditis for men in that age range who get Moderna is 1 in 5,000. Comparatively, that same risk from a Pfizer dose drops to 1 in 28,000. The data comes from a study conducted from June to August and is based on approximately 96,000 shots administered in that time frame.
“I have to build trust with the public and the public deserves to know the facts on the risk,” said Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore. “We have a robust adverse events surveillance system informed by eminent groups. All of those groups recommended that we inform the public of this increased risk of a very rare event.”
Continuing in her weekly update on local vaccines, Page shared that COVID vaccinations are compatible with other yearly vaccine shots, including the flu shot.
Locally, over 140,000 COVID-19 vaccines have now been administered: “We recognize we’re at the endgame here, the last mile as the Province calls it,” said Page. With over 63,000 people in the region receiving both doses, 78.7% of the local population over 12 is fully vaccinated.
Unfortunately, the GOVAXX bus that was stationed at the Caledonia Fair over the weekend did not draw large numbers, with Page mentioning that only “six or seven” people came in on the Saturday of the fair.
Acting MOH concerned about non-COVID diseases on the rise
Haldimand Norfolk’s Acting Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Matt Strauss, shared some thoughts on some of his non-COVID related concerns this fall season.
“There was some discussion with our IV team over the week that non-COVID cases of diseases of public health concern are markedly increased at this time over last year…. Partly that has to do with a lot of our resources being devoted to COVID management,” said Strauss, who noted that he will continue paying attention to these trends over the coming weeks.
Strauss said there are a handful of contagious diseases he’s seen pop up in higher-than-normal numbers, including chlamydia, syphilis, and lyme disease: “Where these would have been on the order of 50 cases a month we are now approaching 70 cases a month.”
“My evaluation of this problem is in a preliminary stage,” summed up Strauss. “Ask me next week.”
HNHU preparing for vaccine rollout to younger children
Although no final decisions have been made regarding when vaccines will become available to children aged 5-12, Strauss said that the team is preparing for this eventuality: “We are aware that this could happen. Chief Page’s team has run lots of contingency plans for what the logistics of such a rollout would be.”
Despite those plans being made, Strauss held strong to his belief that the chief concern right now should be vaccinating as many people as possible in the 40–60-year-old age range.
“I believe there are many folks who are anxious about the health of 5–11-year-olds regarding COVID-19. I do not doubt there will be strong interest in parents finding vaccinations for those kids. I believe there’s hypothetical interest in whether herd immunity could be obtained by vaccinating the whole population, but as we’ve seen over the last year and half, the disease has changed,” said Strauss. “I think determinations about when herd immunity could be reached are ultimately hypothetical.”
Page touched on the HNHU’s plans for vaccinating the younger set: “We’re looking at different methods. We understand that 5, 6, 7-year-olds are not going to be the easiest to vaccinate in mass clinic sites, so we’re looking at school-based and personal-based clinics where they can have family there safely…. We’re looking at more health unit-based clinics and more pop-up clinics more geared towards family life.”