Niagara health professionals continue to try to combat vaccine misinformation

CKTB - NEWS - Niagara vaccinations Seymour-Hannah Clinic

Trying to combat the deluge of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation remains a top concern for health professionals in Niagara.

Niagara Health's Infectious Disease and Antimicrobial Stewardship and Pandemic Preparedness Lead Dr. Karim Ali says a fair amount of ID clinic time is spent talking to people about vaccines.

He says one of the most common concerns he hears is that 'the vaccine was developed too quickly.' "I try to explain to people that is not the case," Ali says. "Messanger mRNA technology has been in research for decades. We knew the spike protein of coronaviruses was going to be very important since 2003 with the first SARS epidemic. So there is a lot of background research that was put into this so that we could have a vaccine that is highly effective and safe when a pandemic hit."

Ali says people often ask about long-term data on vaccines. "There is no long-term data in a pandemic. What we do know is that if you are unvaccinated or you haven't gotten your second shot, the Delta variant that's circulating will find you. Ultimately with all of this, the bug wins," he explains. "And there are downstream effects to it. When people get sick hospitals get overwhelmed, surgeries get cancelled, people's cancers get worse. So that's a whole domino effect to the health care system that I want us to understand. You're not just doing this for yourself when you get vaccinated."

At the peak of the third wave 80 - 90 COVID-19 patients were being treated in Niagara hospitals. Ali says now that 50 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, they are usually caring for 2 - 4 patients.

As of the July 19th Niagara Region Public Health update, 53.2 percent of Niagara residents have completed the two-shot vaccine series.

The Niagara Health Seymour-Hannah mass vaccination clinic in St. Catharines is still accepting walk-ups for first vaccine doses at any time without an appointment. The clinic is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. most days.

People who need a second dose can also join the daily stand-by line between 2 p.m. - 4 p.m. Niagara Health will distribute any doses that might otherwise go to waste due to late cancellations or no-shows.