Facts: The Only Cure for Vaccine Misinformation

It is a stressful time in Alberta with the current COVID-19 pandemic. But there’s a secondary epidemic that needs to be addressed — an epidemic of misinformation that’s rapidly spreading through our social and digital media platforms.

There has been a tidal wave of misinformation and the people responsible for it are causing confusion, as well as mistrust and uncertainty with public health responses. They are prolonging the pandemic and preventing access to our health system for some very ill patients.

Our hospitals are now under intense capacity pressures from a surge of mostly unvaccinated patients with severe COVID-19 illness. This has required the health system to reduce services in other areas and delay care for many individuals with non-COVID-19-related conditions.

For everyone’s sake, it’s crucial all Albertans have reliable, verifiable and current information about COVID-19 to help inform choices and protect themselves and their loved ones.

We provide more information and detail in an article you can read.

Here are the facts:

COVID-19 Vaccines Are Effective

The evidence is conclusively demonstrated and has been articulated in-depth in multiple large, well-conducted, peer-reviewed scientific studies from around the world. Here in Alberta, we see evidence of vaccine’s effectiveness in our ICUs, where roughly nine out of every 10 people with COVID-19 are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated. The risk for COVID-19 infection in fully vaccinated people cannot be eliminated as long as there is continued community transmission of the virus. No vaccine can be 100 per cent effective. However, evidence shows fully vaccinated persons are less likely than unvaccinated persons to acquire COVID-19 infection (including the delta variant), and by preventing infection, vaccines also prevent transmission to others.

COVID-19 Vaccines Are Proven Safe

As of Sept. 17, only a tiny fraction of the 54.8 million doses administered to Canadians led to adverse events — fewer than 0.03 per cent. Furthermore, of those reports of adverse events, even fewer were considered serious, representing only 0.008 per cent of all doses administered. A variety of vaccines have been administered for many decades with no indication of long-term side effects and we would not expect the COVID-19 vaccine to be different. To date, we have seen no indication of adverse events more than six weeks after the vaccine was given.

COVID-19 Vaccines Are Not 'Experimental'

Yes, they were developed rapidly but used science that has been around for decades. Extremely robust data from clinical trials and real-world use in many millions of people show that vaccination is safe, and offers good protection against becoming infected and excellent protection against serious illness or death from COVID-19. There are no reasons to believe that current COVID-19 vaccines should have long-term effects as they cannot alter cell genetic material. They just teach your body to recognize the code of the virus, then disappear.

COVID-19 Vaccines Provide More Robust Protection Than Infection-Acquired (Or Natural) Immunity

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) and Alberta Advisory Committee on Immunization (AACI) continue to recommend that COVID-19 vaccines be offered to individuals with previous SARS-CoV-2 infection, who have no contraindications to the vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines provide more robust protection than infection-acquired (or natural) immunity. The robustness and duration of protection conferred by SARS-CoV-2 infection alone is variable.

While having had the disease offers some protection against future infection, there’s not enough data about that level of protection to know when it tapers off or how protective it is against new variants. Individuals previously infected with SARS-CoV-2 may remain at risk of Omicron infection, and evidence prior to Omicron suggests protection is more robust and longer lasting with vaccination in previously infected individuals compared to immunity from SARS-CoV-2 infection alone. Numerous reports have documented the risk of reinfection with Omicron is higher than risk of reinfection with previous variants.

People with previous COVID-19 infection should continue to receive a complete vaccine series at the recommended intervals. Getting fully immunized offers the best protection possible from the virus.

Acquiring COVID-19 is much more dangerous than getting the vaccines, which have been proven to be safe and effective in billions of people. Immunization against COVID-19 is an essential component to providing the highest standard of care for all physicians and healthcare professionals. We strongly support physicians and healthcare professionals in their continuing efforts to listen to patients, provide them with reliable information, lead by example, and help Albertans find the path to becoming vaccinated and protecting themselves and all Albertans.

Dr. Scott McLeod - Registrar, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta

Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti – President, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta

Dr. Verna Yiu – President & Chief Executive Officer, Alberta Health Services

Dr. Francois Belanger – Vice President Quality & Chief Medical Officer, Alberta Health Services

Dr. Brenda Hemmelgarn – Dean, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta

Dr. Jon Meddings – Dean, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary

Dr. Vesta Michelle Warren – President, Alberta Medical Association