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The health buzz kicking off 2021 is COVID-19 vaccinations!  Depending on what part of Canada you are in, your age and your living arrangements, you may have been part of the fortunate group who have already received your COVID-19 vaccine.  For the majority of Canadians however, including most healthcare professionals, we are still patiently waiting.  In the meanwhile, questions abound.  Let’s tackle some of these here and give you credible resources for ongoing updates too.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are mRNA vaccines.  For a quick Myths & Facts on mRNA vaccines, please click here:

How do the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines work? 

Here’s a great infographic explaining how mRNA vaccines work!

What are the possible side effects?

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) shares the following about side effects from the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines: 

Pain at the injection site is very common after administration of the vaccine. More than 80% of recipients experienced injection site pain. Redness and swelling are common or very common after administration.  Pain at the injection site was slightly more frequent in younger adults compared to older adults.

Systemic side effects, such as fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, and joint pain are all either common or very common after the administration of the currently authorized mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. Fever was very common after administration of the second dose of the currently authorized mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. More than a quarter of vaccine recipients after any dose experienced headache, and/or fatigue. Systemic adverse events are usually mild or moderate intensity and resolve within a few days of vaccination. Systemic reactions are more frequent after the second vaccine dose and in younger adults.

The side effects that followed vaccine administration in clinical trials for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were mild or moderate.  These are common side effects of vaccines and do not pose a risk to health.  They are signs that your body is working to build its defences.

As with all vaccines, there’s a chance that there will be a serious side effect, but these are rare. A serious side effect might be something like an allergic reaction. 

If you have concerns about side effects, experience serious side effects or lingering side effects for more than 3 days, you should inform the group that you got the vaccine from.

After I’ve received the second dose, do I still need to do extra things like wear masks?

People with diabetes cannot be too cautious when it comes to COVID-19.  It has been noted that people with diabetes who are infected with COIVD-19 don’t recover as easily compared to those without diabetes.  As well, people with uncontrolled diabetes have a higher fatality rate than those whose diabetes is controlled.

With regards to timelines, keep in mind that the COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t reach full effectiveness until 2 weeks after the last dose.  Nor is vaccination is equivalent to a 100% shield.  The reports for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines cite 95% effectiveness under (optimal) clinical trial conditions.  Logic dictates that anything less than 100% protection means there is still a chance to get COVID-19 even if vaccinated – so why wouldn’t you continue with additional protective measures?!

Having the vaccine means you are better protected, so best practices mean you should still keep doing ALL you can to prevent transmission, including wearing masks, more frequent hand washing and surface cleaning, physical distancing and minimizing your potential exposures. 

What about the other COVID-19 vaccines that are being considered and going to be available in the future too?  Where can I get more information and updates?

The Government of Canada is working to provide Canadians with access to approved vaccines from a variety of sources as quickly as possible.  In addition to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, there are also procurement agreements with 5 other suppliers, assuming their vaccines receive Health Canada approval.

For more updates and detailed information on approved COVID-19 vaccines, please refer to the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) “Recommendations on the use of COVID-19 vaccines” webpage

Have questions about managing your diabetes during COVID-19?

If you have questions about your diabetes, but are unable to have in-person or virtual appointments with your usual healthcare providers, here are some helpful resources:

Diabetes Canada has staffed up their call lines with more CDEs to assist people with questions during the pandemic.  Call 1-800-BANTING (226-8464) or email [email protected]

Diabetes Depot is operated by LMC Pharmacy and our team of Certified Pump Trainers, CDE nurses, dietitians and pharmacists and fellow T1D pumpers are available to help with your product and care questions.  Contact us at [email protected] or 1-888-678-8887.

Free Online Group Education Workshops are available from the LMC Healthcare Diabetes Education Program.  Choose from a variety of topics, including Taking Care of Yourself During COIVD-19, Carb Counting and Advanced Sessions.