The AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine is now available for people between 60-64 years of age at certain pharmacies in Kingston, Toronto and Windsor-Essex County. On my first day administering the vaccine, there was some confusion about whether people aged 59 or 65 would qualify. So I consulted the current eligibility requirements dated Mar 12, 2021 and discussed the issue with the pharmacy manager. We figured out that to be eligible for the AstraZeneca vaccine, your birthday must be between Jan 1, 1956 and Dec 31, 1961. This may change in the coming days as new National Advisory Committee on Immunization Recommendations are made public. It is possible that the eligibility age will increase, as some recent studies suggest using this vaccine in older adults have promising results.
A question that I have been getting in the pharmacy is, “Should I get this vaccine now or wait until later?” People are telling me that the AstraZeneca Vaccine is 70% effective, while the Pfizer Vaccine is 95%. So, they want to wait for the more effective vaccine. The key point that is missing is a vaccine’s effectiveness in reducing the severity of illness. You do not want to get so sick from COVID-19 that you require hospitalization and the possibility of a ventilator in ICU. Every COVID-19 vaccine that has been approved is 100% effective to protect you from hospitalization and death. The table below, that was created by Dr. Monica Gandhi, illustrates this point.
You may still get Covid-19 after receiving the complete Covid-19 vaccination. However, the symptoms will not be as severe, and it is much less likely that you will require hospitalization. Waiting for a vaccine with a higher effectiveness is dangerous. You may have to wait months while you remain unprotected from serious illness.
I am hoping that enough people will get the vaccine for herd immunity. Until then, we must still follow public health guidelines, including wearing masks in public places. Please continue to follow your personal lifestyle medicine practices: a whole-food plant-based diet, physical activity, stress reduction, sleep, reducing harmful substances and positive social connection. These measures will support optimal functioning of your immune system.
Another comment I heard was about blood clots being associated with the vaccine. Denmark, Norway and Ireland have suspended their AstraZeneca Vaccination Programs. The World Health Organization has refuted the association and stated that there is no reason to stop vaccinations. Even if there is an association, medications are available to treat blood clots. However, one must weigh the risks and the benefits of a vaccine versus acquiring COVID-19. As a pharmacist, I must respect people’s right to make their own health decisions. I can only provide the best available information that I have at the time. If you have any comments, please feel free to put them below. Thanks for reading! #lifestylemedicine #olderadults #seniors #vaccinatekfla