COVID-19 Vaccine questions asked at the Métis Nation of Ontario Town Hall

The following questions were submitted during the January 21, 2021 MNO All Citizen Town Hall, which addressed the MNO’s plans to roll out the Covid-19 vaccination. Click here to be taken to MNO COVID-19 Updates.

What identification will I need to get the vaccination?

Government of Ontario issued identification (Health Card, Driver’s License, etc.) is required for health data and tracking including: monitoring adverse events following immunization; timing of the second dose for vaccines; and population-level efficacy. You will also need your Métis Nation of Ontario Citizenship card to be considered in the Phase 1 round of vaccinations that includes Métis, First Nations and Inuit people.

Does advanced registration for those with a ‘compromised immune system’ include diabetes and/or high blood pressure?

The PCMNO have determined that MNO Citizens aged 65 years and older, and Citizens who are immunocompromised or at a high-risk of infection will be eligible for advanced registration for vaccine clinics. This would include those who are immunocompromised as a result of a congenital condition (e.g., congenital agammaglobulinemia, congenital IgA deficiency), an illness (e.g. HIV/AIDS or cancer) or medications that suppress immune function (e.g. chemotherapy or oral steroids). While diabetes is not generally considered an immunocompromising condition, the PCMNO has decided that those at high-risk of infection (including diabetics) will also be eligible for advanced registration.

We have two family member’s partners staying here with us who are not MNO Citizens. Their address will be different than my husband and mine. Is there something that I can do for these other family members?

At this time, Métis, Inuit and First Nations are part of the first phase rollout of vaccines in the province. The MNO is in discussions with the Ministry to confirm if households will be provided the opportunity to access the vaccine at the same time. Please continue to watch the MNO website for updates: www.metisnation.org.

Where can MNO Citizens get antibody tests?

Antibodies are produced by the immune system in response to infection by bacteria and viruses. Antibody testing examines a person’s blood to see if they have antibodies to COVID-19. Antibody testing that is specific for COVID-19 antibodies is therefore a useful way to find out whether a person has been exposed to the virus (even if the person didn’t have any symptoms). These tests and results should not be used to rule out active infection.

Antibody tests are available for a fee ($60-$75) in Ontario from three laboratories: Dynacare, Med-Health and LifeLabs. Each laboratory requires a requisition form signed by your health care provider before a blood sample can be collected for antibody testing. Note that antibody testing is different from the COVID-19 testing (using PCR testing) that is available for any Métis in Ontario. Please see this graphic from Public Health Ontario for the difference between these two tests.

What happens if you cannot get your second vaccine shot within the allotted time period?

The manufacturers’ recommended intervals between doses (21-27 days) will be maintained where possible. Vaccine supply challenges could mean the time between your first and second dose may be longer than the time period recommended by the manufacturers. Where vaccine supply permits, you should receive your dose within the recommended timelines.

Currently, there is no data on a maximum interval between doses. In general, a longer than recommended interval between doses does not require restarting the series as delays between doses do not result in a reduction in final antibody concentrations for most multi-dose vaccines. For more information, see the NACI Guidelines.

To protect access to second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for those who have already received their first dose, the Government of Ontario has chosen to maintain the maximum interval of 21-27 days for long-term care, retirement and First Nations elder care home resident groups, and have extended the interval up to 42 days between the two doses for all other groups. The intervals will be adjusted down to 21-27 days as quickly as possible, once vaccine supply permits. For more information, please see the update to the vaccination plan in Ontario.

At what age can someone receive the vaccine?

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is approved for those aged 16 years and older. The Moderna vaccine is approved for those aged 18 years and older.

When do you estimate vaccine will be available for MNO adults?

The best knowledge we can provide today is sometime in March 2021. This may change as the vaccine supply changes.

How will we know where and how we can register for an appointment for the vaccine?

The details of when and where the vaccine rollout will occur is still in development. There has been a delay in shipment of the vaccine to Canada and others as Pfizer retools the plant manufacturing the vaccine. This is causing a slight delay for Métis as well as all Canadians. Please continue to watch the MNO website for updates: www.metisnation.org

Can women who are pregnant or breastfeeding receive the vaccine?

Pregnant and breastfeeding individuals are able to access COVID-19 vaccines in Ontario per the expert guidance from the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. All pregnant individuals will receive informed counselling and consent that includes:

(1) a review of the risks and benefits of the vaccine,

(2) a review of the potential risks /consequences of a COVID infection in pregnancy,

(3) a review of the risk of acquiring a COVID infection in pregnancy and

(4) an acknowledgment of the insufficiency of evidence for the use of current COVID-19 vaccines in the pregnant population.

If after this counselling the pregnant individual feels that the risk of infection and/or morbidity from COVID-19 outweighs the potential harms of being vaccinated during pregnancy or while breastfeeding and there are no other contraindications, they should be able to access the vaccine. For even more information, please see the COVID-19 Vaccination Recommendations for Special Populations from the Ministry of Health.

If the Canadian government makes vaccine mandatory and I don’t wish to take it … how is the Métis Nation of Ontario going to protect my beliefs?

The goal for the Métis Nation of Ontario is to create an environment where it’s safe to ask your questions as you make your decision to vaccinate. Similarly, other Governments and public health officials at the federal and provincial levels have said the COVID-19 vaccine will be voluntary.

I am immunocompromised and have severe allergies. Will I be able to get the vaccine in a hospital setting in case of an allergic reaction?

It is recommended you consult with your allergist-immunologist. Depending on your allergens, it may be recommended that you do not have the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (e.g. if you’ve had a severe allergic reaction like anaphylaxis to a previous dose of an mRNA vaccine or to any of its components or its container) or that you have them under specific conditions (e.g. in a setting with advanced medical care available) if you have suspected hypersensitivity. For more information, please see the COVID-19 Vaccination Recommendations for Special Populations from the Ministry of Health.

Individuals with autoimmune conditions or who were immunocompromised due to disease or treatment were excluded from the Phase III trials for COVID-19 vaccines. There is no data on the safety of administration in this population. Individuals with autoimmune conditions, immunodeficiency conditions or those immunosuppressed due to disease or treatment may choose to receive the vaccine after informed counselling and consent that includes:

(1) a review of the risks and benefits of the vaccine,

(2) a review of the potential risks /consequences of a COVID infection,

(3) a review of the risk of acquiring a COVID infection, and (4) an acknowledgment of the insufficiency of the evidence for the use of currently available COVID-19 vaccines in these populations and in view of possible decreased vaccine effectiveness with the use of immunosuppressive therapy.

This counselling and consent process will be provided at all vaccination locations. You may also choose to discuss with your usual healthcare provider(s) before accessing a vaccination clinic.

What about households with MNO and non-MNO Citizens residing? Will the non-MNO Citizens be able to get vaccinated too?

Discussions are ongoing.  The actual information with regards to timing of when and where the vaccine rollout will occur is still in development. Please continue to watch the MNO website for updates: www.metisnation.org

Is the vaccine’s effectiveness impacted by age, health conditions, or blood types?

According to the research results published to date, vaccine efficacy for the two mRNA vaccines approved was consistent in analyses by various subgroups with the overall vaccine efficacy of 94-95%.

The phase III Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine study (published in New England Journal of Medicine) explored vaccine efficacy among subgroups defined by age, sex, race, ethnicity, obesity, and presence of a coexisting condition and results were generally consistent with that observed in the overall population. Vaccine efficacy among participants with high blood pressure was analyzed separately in the same study and was also consistent with the overall group.

Similarly, the phase III Moderna vaccine study (also published in New England Journal of Medicine) evaluated vaccine efficacy across subgroups including age, a combination of age and health risk for severe disease, sex, race and ethnic group, and risk for severe COVID-19 illness. Results showed consistent findings with the overall group.

If a MNO Citizen has already received the vaccine (caregiver to parent in long term care home), should the MNO be notified ahead of time?

No, there is no need to notify the MNO. It will be up to MNO Citizens to register for the vaccine clinics that will be organized. Further, all data on COVID-19 vaccination will be entered into a single database in Ontario that the health care professionals administering the vaccine will be able to access.

Will new MNO Citizens who have received their acceptance letter be able to use that letter and government photo ID to get the vaccine?
Yes, your MNO citizenship acceptance letter will be accepted in lieu of a MNO Citizen Card if you have not yet received your Citizenship Card.

Can you confirm that vaccinations will be available during Phase One? The Government of Ontario website seems to imply that would apply to remote Indigenous Communities. Will the remainder be during Phase Two?

The Phase One roll out of Vaccines in Ontario includes all adult Métis, Inuit and First Nations populations.

Will my local health unit be aware that as a MNO Citizen I am eligible for the vaccine? How will they be informed?
The actual information with regards to timing of when and where the vaccine rollout will occur is still in development. Please continue to check the MNO website for updates as they are made available.

Will seniors receive a phone call about the vaccine as many seniors may not use email or a computer?

The MNO will co-develop the process of contact with the health care providers administering the vaccines. We are looking at a variety of means of proactively reaching out to MNO seniors aged 65 years and older.

There is a delay in Pfizer-BionTech vaccine but not the Moderna vaccine. Will the Moderna vaccine be available to MNO citizens?

The actual information with regards to timing of when and where the vaccine rollout will occur is still in development. You may be aware there has been a delay in shipment of the vaccine to Canada and others as Pfizer retools the plant manufacturing the vaccine. This is causing a slight delay for Metis as well as all Canadians. Please continue to check the MNO website for updates as they are made available: www.metisnation.org.

Will vaccinations be available in MNO offices?

The MNO Office was not a choice for the vaccine roll out at this time. There are strict protocols for vaccination clinics. The MNO offices are not equipped properly at this time which could cause further delay. The MNO continues to work with the Ministry and partners to find the best options.


 

Vaccine information from the Government of Canada:

Covid-19 Vaccine Brochure | Poster 1 | Poster 2