Another school year begins while COVID continues to rage. Last fall, had we been able to look a year into the future, we would have predicted a pandemic long since brought to its knees by plentiful, astonishingly effective vaccines. Instead, due primarily to the reluctance of some Canadians who, bewilderingly, refuse the vaccines, the latest COVID variant has us once again on our knees. This is an astonishing display of irresponsible citizenship, of mistrust in our governments and of the democratic institutions that underpin civilization as we know it. When confronted with COVID “anti-vaxxers” in the midst of a crisis that vaccinations could resolve, what is an educator to do? This month, we offer an obvious, yet oddly overlooked, resource: taxpayer-funded Health Canada, with the experts and organizations we pay to provide us with the best available information and advice.
- Health Canada– Yes, Health Canada. Our taxes pay to have the best doctors and scientists guide our health decisions, yet when anti-vaccine people tell us to “do the research,” they rarely include this obvious first stop. After all, “Health Canada is responsible for helping Canadians maintain and improve their health. It ensures that high-quality health services are accessible, and works to reduce health risks.” Or, do the anti-vaccine people mean we should read scientific articles? If so, consider this excerpt from the top of a scientific paper on mRNA vaccines: “Vaccine A uses the wild-type sequence of GP (MGVTGILQLPRDRFKRTSFFLWVIILFQRTFS), whereas Vaccine B uses the signal sequence from human Igκ subgroup V (METPAQLLFLLLLWLPDTTG). The mRNAs were purified and resuspended in a citrate buffer at the desired concentration. A donor methyl group S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) was added to methylated capped RNA (cap-0), resulting in a cap-1 structure to increase mRNA translation efficiency . LNP formulations were prepared as previously described .” (https://academic.oup.com/jid/article/217/3/451/4770157)
If, like me, you do not know how to read or interpret this excerpt—let alone evaluate it—we must rely on scientists we can trust to explain it to us in terms we can understand. Enter Health Canada—paid for by us to do exactly that. We trust these scientists to tell us what’s what about COVID, just as we trust Health Canada’s sub agencies that ensure product safety for everything we buy, from heart medication to baby cribs. Health Canada not only ensures that vaccines are safe, it oversees and approves all the drugs and medicines available to Canadians, as well as ensuring food safety, proper labelling, and so on. There’s a lot to distrust—or, as makes considerably more sense, a good reason to trust this remarkable institution.
- Let’s get specific: Re: Moderna COVID vaccine – Note, at the top of the page at this link: “All COVID-19 vaccines authorized in Canada are proven safe, effective and of high quality.” That, as they say, is straight from the horse’s mouth. You can take that to the bank. Bet your life on it. And if you need more, you’ll find pretty much everything you’ll need to know about this vaccine—who can take it, how much, side effects, and a list of all of its ingredients (which do not include mercury, aborted fetal cells, or a micro-computer chip) among other info. You can do the same with Pfizer (https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/covid19-industry/drugs-vaccines-treatments/vaccines/pfizer-biontech.html).
- Ask the experts video series: COVID-19 vaccines questions – Often video is more effective than print in conveying important messaging. In this series of videos a range of experts address dozens of typical COVID-related questions. Click on any or all to get the straight goods from people who know what they are talking about.
- How do I know a COVID-19 vaccine is safe for my youth without long-term data?
- Should youth get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it’s available to them?
- Do I need to get the vaccine if I’ve already had and recovered from COVID-19?
- How long does it take for a COVID-19 vaccine to work after I’ve received it?
- Can the COVID-19 vaccines affect fertility?
- Will the COVID-19 vaccines protect me against new variants?
- Are allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccines common?
- Are there any ingredients in the COVID-19 vaccines that I should be concerned about?
- Are COVID-19 vaccines considered Halal?
- Do the COVID-19 vaccines contain pork or pork products?
- Can I get a different vaccine for my second dose? Are there any possible new side effects?
- What kind of testing was done before the COVID-19 vaccines were authorized in Canada?
- How do we know the COVID-19 vaccines are safe?
- How was it possible to develop safe COVID-19 vaccines so quickly?
- Do COVID-19 vaccines have side effects?
- What are the differences between the vaccines? Which one is the best vaccine for me?
- How do the COVID-19 vaccines work?
- Do I need to get the second dose?
- Can someone get COVID-19 from the vaccine?
- Without long-term data, how do we know that the vaccine is safe?
- How are side effects and the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines monitored in Canada?
- I’m young and healthy. Why should I get vaccinated if I’m not at risk?
- What are mRNA vaccines and how do they work?
- What are viral vector-based vaccines and how do they work?
We hope you can find a measure of relief from the daily onslaught of conflicting information and disinformation via Health Canada. Wishing you and your colleagues and students a healthy and productive new school year.
For other Research and Findings topics, please go to: https://nextgenedition.com/research-findings/