Canada

As province lowers AstraZeneca age requirement, doctor urges people to get the first shot they’re offered

BARRIE —
After a weekend of changing direction from the province and an announcement of the Federal Government sending in support amidst a surging third wave, CTV’s Dana Roberts spoke with Dr. Sohail Gandhi, the Past-President of the Ontario Medical Association, about what activities are safe and the challenges of sending in hospital staff from other provinces.

Dana Roberts: Now, the province Dr. Gandhi, has lowered the age range for the AstraZeneca vaccine. It was at 55; now it’s down to 40. Can you put this into context for me for how important this is, and is this simply a result of how desperate we are in trying to vaccinate ourselves out of this situation?

Dr. Sohail Gandhi: It is a safe move, and I think it’s really important for all of us to get the vaccines, and as I’ve said before, you should get the first vaccine you are offered. The chance of getting a blood clot is extremely small; the chance of getting COVID is much, much higher, so please take whichever you are given.

Dana Roberts: The province reversed course on its decision to close playgrounds since the last time we spoke; however, a number of other activities remain off-limits according to the province. Is this the right move, or should those start to be reopened as well?

Dr. Sohail Gandhi: I think for the sake of everyone’s mental health, and because the transmission is so, so low in outdoor activities, wherever you can go outdoors I think is a good thing to do, particularly if you are able to go outside and continue to social distance.

Dana Roberts: Now, Dr. Gandhi, in terms of other provinces sending hospital staff, what are the challenges with that and has it happened before?

Dr. Sohail Gandhi: So I’ve never seen the province reach out to other provinces and ask for help; this is new territory as much of the past year has been. It’s not the territory that I ever wanted to see because as good as the staff that are going to come; I have no doubt that any staff that are sent to us will be well qualified, compassionate, hardworking and wanting to do their best; the reality is that there are different systems that are in place in different provinces and there’s a learning curve that’s going to be there.

Dana Roberts: Now, what kind of shuffling is already going on in hospitals right now and how is that affecting the burnout rate?

Dr. Sohail Gandhi: I’m not a critical care physician. I’m certainly resolved in our COVID response in our neck of the woods, but I’m not a critical care physician. And I have to tell you when I watch some of our critical care colleagues when I watch them on interviews as well; you can just sense how tired and how burnt out they are. These people are working days and nights, as have nurses, as have PSW’s for the past few weeks…and I have to tell you my heart goes out to them. They are very, very tired because of the workload right now.


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