Sask. doctors advised not to write notes recommending specific vaccine brand for patients

·2 min read
A health-care worker prepares a shot of the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD COVID-19 vaccine. (AHS - image credit)
A health-care worker prepares a shot of the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD COVID-19 vaccine. (AHS - image credit)

Saskatchewan doctors have been advised by the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) to refrain from writing patients notes recommending a specific COVID-19 vaccine brand.

The SHA said that at clinic locations, there are patients saying their physicians are recommending they only receive a specific brand. For example, Pfizer over Moderna, or Moderna over AstraZeneca.

"There is no clinical evidence to support this recommendation," the SHA said in a statement.

Those who may get a specific type of vaccine include people who have extremely vulnerable conditions, but those conditions have already been approved and listed by the Ministry of Health.

All vaccines in Canada are safe and approved for use said the Saskatchewan Health Authority. It is encouraging people to get the first shot that is offered to them.
All vaccines in Canada are safe and approved for use said the Saskatchewan Health Authority. It is encouraging people to get the first shot that is offered to them. (Leah Hennel/AHS)

The SHA said physician support on this issue is "critical to ensure overall vaccine uptake and protecting people as quickly as possible."

It also helps the vaccination process run more smoothly.

"This becomes very confusing and anxiety-provoking for our patients, but also for our immunization staff who are showing up to work to do the best that they can and are often put in very difficult situations when they have to challenge a patient on their eligibility," physician executive Dr. Kevin Wasko said on April 15 during a physician's town hall meeting.

"Please, follow the science."

Not the time to vaccine shop: Shahab

Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said all COVID-19 vaccines approved by Health Canada are safe and effective.

"This is not the time to hesitate or vaccine shop," said Shahab, who got the AstraZeneca shot.

"The vaccine only works once it's in your arm and has the two to three weeks to work."

Dr. Saqib Shahab, the province's chief medical health officer, received AstraZeneca-Oxford's COVID-19 vaccine at Regina's drive-thru clinic.
Dr. Saqib Shahab, the province's chief medical health officer, received AstraZeneca-Oxford's COVID-19 vaccine at Regina's drive-thru clinic. (CBC)

Health Minister Paul Merriman said people don't get an advanced warning of the brand they'll receive.

Despite this, he said "we have had very minimal people that did not want to take a specific vaccine."

"We don't have the amount of vaccines to pick and choose right now," Merriman said Saturday during a scrum with reporters at the Saskatchewan Legislature.

"Every vaccine is a good vaccine."