Is there a 'preferred' COVID-19 vaccine? 'These guys are blowing it': NACI's recommendation sparks anger, frustration in doctors and residents

Farah Khan
·6 min read

On Mon. May 3, Canada National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) announced mRNA vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna to be the preferred ones, given there are no are contraindications

"What we're saying — and what we've been saying all along — is that mRNA vaccines are the preferred vaccines," says Dr. Shelley Deeks, the vice-chair of NACI, as reported by CBC.

Vaccine hesitancy, especially towards AstraZeneca, has already been high since cases of a rare blood clotting disorder possibly linked to AstraZeneca arose. 

Concerns grew after the NACI statements made were contrary to the government and public health agencies messaging on receiving the vaccine as soon as it is offered to you.

In light of the statements, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the concerns caused by NACI. 

“All vaccines in Canada have been approved by Health Canada. Our advice to provinces and territories, and to Canadians, has not changed,” Trudeau said during the presser. “Get your shot as soon as it’s your turn.”

Doctors also weighed in and encouraged people to get any vaccine that is available to you.

Experts continue to enforce the "first vaccine, best vaccine" policy

"It pains me to say this, but it's time to take NACI recommendations with a grain of salt," tweeted Brian Goldman, emergency room physician. 

"For the good of your own health, do not be choosy when it comes to #covidvaccines. Take the first one you're offered."

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NACI said AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson can be used by people who don't want to wait or those who "can't afford" to wait, as reported by John Paul Tasker.

NACI has acknowledged that racialized people are one of the populations at an increased risk of COVID-19. Many of those who can't afford to wait are the essential workers from racialized communities which people have spoken out about.

"The racialized people that we're calling essential and treating and expendable are second-class citizens," tweeted Denise Balkissoon. "They need vaccines the most and are now officially being told they're stuck with the inferior ones. Canada is fun."

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Doctors are emphasizing a one-tier vaccine and discouraging vaccine superiority. 

"With due respect to NACI, there should be no 'preferred vaccines'," tweeted Abdu Sharkway. "A thoughtful, informed choice based on individual risks related to age, gender, community transmission is a must."

"I find it very troubling from a health equity perspective to bake in a hierarchy to the vaccines when we know access has been shaped by the structural determinants of health all along," tweeted Andrew Baback Boozary.

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Reactions from people who got the AstraZeneca vaccine

People are questioning why NACI previously recommended getting the first vaccine that is available to them.

"My husband got the AstraZeneca last week. Should he have waited? That is not what they've been saying all along," tweeted Alicia.

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People are recognizing that vaccine hesitancy has been high especially towards the AstraZeneca vaccine, and this messaging is adding to it.

"Communication has been muddled from the get go; these guys are blowing it and contributing to vax hesitancy," tweeted Sean Dillon.

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The recent preferred vaccine recommendation made by the NACI has caused confusion and fear among people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine.

"Getting it [AstraZeneca] was a big deal for me due to health anxiety and now today after NACI [releasing the statement]- I’m a wreck. The msgs are confusing and awaken fear."

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