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B.C. doctor urges people against COVID-19 'vaccine shopping'

Last Updated Mar 11, 2021 at 11:01 am PDT

Syringes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine sit in a tray in a vaccination room at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Head of Doctors of BC says all four vaccines available similar when it comes to preventing seriouis illness, death

Dr. Matthew Chow says the best vaccine is the one that's offered to you first

'You should not wait,' says doctor about whether you should hold out for a different vaccine than the one offered to you

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – As the distribution of shots against COVID-19 continues to ramp up in B.C., you’re being urged to avoid so-called “vaccine shopping.”

Despite different efficacy rates, the head of the association that represents physicians, residents, and medical students in B.C. is reminding people that all four vaccines available are very similar when it comes to preventing serious illness and death.

“Yes, absolutely I’m hearing about vaccine shopping,” Dr. Matthew Chow, president of Doctors of BC, told NEWS 1130.

He says even his own parents have had questions around vaccines and their effectiveness.

“Bottom line: Their question to me was should they wait or hold out for a different vaccine than the one that they’ve been offered,” he explained.

Related article: B.C. residents 85 and older able to book COVID-19 vaccine Thursday

Chow says he’s told his parents the same thing he’s telling everyone else: The best vaccine is the one that’s offered to you first.

“My unequivocal answer to them is: ‘No, you should not wait,'” he said.

He points out one reason the vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have a higher efficacy rate than the ones produced by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson may be because the first two were tested when varients of concern weren’t as prevalent.

“If we had actually tested all four of those vaccines in exactly the same conditions — exactly the same time with exactly the same prevalence of these variants of concern — I wouldn’t be surprised if we found that the protection level is pretty similar,” he explained.

He believes some of the hesitation comes from how the data on how vaccines are evaluated is reported.

“I think that’s just how science works, is that these vaccines are studied and an efficacy rate — how effective these vaccines are — is reported out, and that’s used by regulators, such as Health Canada, to determine whether a vaccine is safe and whether it’s worthwhile to approve it to use in Canada to help us end this pandemic,” Chow told NEWS 1130.

However, he notes some of the nuance gets lost when you report out a bunch of data.

Chow assures everyone there are public health officials who are carefully looking at data around vaccines, how they work, and how they impact people.


He says global data “is very promising right now.”

“And that’s why even with my own parents, even with my own family, I’m recommending to them whichever vaccine they are offered first, go get it,” Chow said.

-With files from Yasmin Gandham