By Tara Kiran, Jeff Kwong, and Noah Ivers
Since Canada approved our first COVID-19 vaccine, our attention has been focused on ensuring adequate vaccine supply, figuring out distribution and storage and deciding who gets it first. There’s been little discussion, though, about who will be giving the vaccine and where.
This fall’s flu shot campaign offers important lessons. Flu immunization was more important than ever because of COVID-19 but there were still needless hiccups in execution – worry and confusion about the supply, lack of clarity on whether to prioritize those at highest risk and, at times, finger pointing instead of collaboration.
But we have the opportunity to learn from our past. Key to the vaccine rollout’s success will be exceptional collaboration between primary care teams, community pharmacists and public health units – the three sectors that deliver the majority of vaccines in Canada.
Each sector plays a unique role. Family doctors and their teams have longstanding relationships with patients. These relationships are built on foundations of trust from which we can relay scientific information and directly address patients’ fears – from missing out on the vaccine to adverse effects. We can also use our records to identify priority groups and proactively reach out to them.