Opinion: Misled into heeding the call for AstraZeneca
Published Saturday, May 15, 2021 2:41PM EDT
MONTREAL -- In late April, like many fellow Quebecers, I heeded the call and offered my arm for a jab of AstraZeneca.
With 200,000 doses available, a window of opportunity was briefly opened to those of us over 45 years of age. At the time, despite growing international concerns about the possible link to rare blood clots, our government, public health advisors, and medical specialists assured the population that science and statistics supported the safe use of this vaccine in Canada.
Accepting that the best vaccine is the first one available, Generation-X rapidly filled the appointments, doing its part to support herd immunity and help protect society at large.
Now, three weeks into the 28-day risk of clot period, as multiple provinces cease the use of the very vaccine flowing through my veins, I am left feeling angry… bitter… deceived.
Not because I regret receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine, which allowed for one more step in diligently protecting myself and those around me from a virus that has caused so much suffering and loss. Nor because information has changed as more data has become available. We are, after all, learning new details each day about this novel coronavirus, of which we knew nothing prior to the pandemic.
Rather, because it seems as if pertinent information, which would have allowed for a more informed decision, was withheld, when many of us (200,000 to be exact) made the choice to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Are we to believe that within days of injecting the last of those doses of AstraZeneca to the 45+ years of age, the Quebec government suddenly realized that, with 2.5 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine on the way, they could lower the general vaccination age eligibility to include those of us who had just received a first dose of the vaccine now coming under more scrutiny?
Rationally, I know that I made the right choice when my age group was asked to accept the first (and at the time, only) vaccine available to us.
Yet, as I sit here hoping that my cells and AstraZeneca remain friendly, I feel betrayed by our government and public health specialists.
As a critical thinker, I made the decisions based on information to which we had access.
When Quebec lowered the age to 45+, specifically for AstraZeneca, it was said to be unknown when they would do the same for the general vaccine roll-out for this age group. Based on that fact, I, like many others of my generation, made the choice that the benefits of receiving this contested vaccine, outweighed the risk of waiting for other options.
Yet, in the three weeks since then, Pfizer and Moderna have taken over vaccination centres with AstraZeneca nowhere in sight, as more and more provinces cease its use.
While I wait out this risk period, I remind myself that life is filled with risks and unknowns over which we have little control. Yet, I cannot shake the feeling that my decision to heed the call was misled by a government that may have chosen to intentionally keep information from us, in an effort to deplete supply of the less popular AstraZeneca vaccine just before shipment of the now preferred vaccines arrived in town.
Perhaps Gen X would have chosen differently had these details been made available. Instead, we are left hoping that our sense of communal responsibility will not add to the troubling statistics plaguing AstraZeneca.
Susan Mintzberg is a PhD candidate in social work at McGill University. Her research focuses on the role of family caregivers in mental health care.