Live at noon: Doctor panel set to take questions on COVID-19 vaccine

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Can the COVID-19 vaccine cause death or serious injury? That’s a common question for doctors and nurses trying to ensure patients know the facts before deciding whether or not to get the vaccine, said Dr. Chris Sarin.

Sarin, deputy medical officer of health in Alberta for Indigenous Services Canada, is one of several medical doctors and elders participating in a town hall Wednesday at noon to ensure Alberta residents get their COVID-19 vaccine questions answered.

The panel is organized by the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation. It will also include Alberta Health’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Indigenous Services Canada’s Dr. Evan Adams who is deputy chief medical officer; and Indigenous elders Rod and Doreen Alexis.

Indigenous Albertans are among those most likely to say they are leery about getting the COVID-19 vaccine and need more information. Community leaders say this is because a legacy of the residential school system, unethical medical experiments in the past and on-going racism.

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The Edmonton Journal has also been getting questions around vaccine safety through Groundwork, our pilot project in engagement journalism. We decided to partner with the Alexis Nakota Sioux organizers to share news of their town hall more widely since the questions seem to overlap.

We’ll embed the town hall on this page when it goes live at noon.

Anyone can contribute a question for the town hall Wednesday by emailing it to yourhealthourstrength@gmail.com. The discussion will be also be live from 12 to 1 p.m. on Windspeaker Radio and Facebook.com/CFWE.FM. The radio stations are 89.3 Edmonton, 98.5 Edmonton, 94.5 Ft. Mc Murray, 90.5 Lac La Biche, 96.7 Cold Lake/ St.Paul, 91.7 Joussard, 96.7 Moose Hills Region, 89.3 FM in Southern Alberta, Red Deer County 88.7 FM and 88.1 CJWE Calgary.

The panel set to discuss COVID-19 vaccines at noon.
The panel set to discuss COVID-19 vaccines at noon.

When Sarin gets a question on safety, he describes the increased monitoring in place for this immunization campaign, he said. Nurses are encouraged to report any bad reaction or death that happens up to 30 days after the vaccine.

“We track those events and we have had people feel unwell after the vaccine. We’ve had rashes and we’ve had some swelling,” he said. But at least on reserve, they have not had any serious reactions or deaths. If there is something serious, it’s reported to Alberta Health, which investigates and reports to a national committee. They’re watching for trends, anything that would cause them to vary the advice they’re currently giving patients.

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Sarin said he’s confident in the vaccine clinical trials, but those involved tens of thousands of people. To see a very rare reaction, you need millions of doses, he said.

“Every vaccine is about informed consent, the risk and benefits,” he said. “Even if there is a signal (of rare serious injury or death), it doesn’t mean we would stop. It means we have to inform the individual. But there has been no death signal so far in Canada.”

As of March 12, Alberta Health received 143 reports about adverse events following vaccination out of 346,135 doses province wide. Those reports are being investigated.

estolte@postmedia.com

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For more on Alberta’s vaccine rollout, read our guide driven by reader questions.

  1. Hana Amdemichael, left, and her mother Sofia Ogbaghebriel are both hoping to get the COVID-19 vaccine because it will allow life to slowly return to normal. They are concerned about surveys that find Black Canadians are far less likely to say they want the vaccine than others.

    Elise Stolte: Black, Indigenous and other seniors in grave danger as variant COVID-19 strains grow

  2. File photo.

    Survey: What is it like to be a caregiver in Alberta?

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