20 people who took on the biggest job of the pandemic and helped Ontario get its shots

From the Toronto Star article

To mark how far we’ve come during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Star has profiled 20 of the people who helped get more than 25 million doses into arms.

Tara Kiran — The family doctor

As a family physician at St. Michael’s Hospital, Dr. Tara Kiran knew she would one day help vaccinate her own patients against COVID-19.

But even before vaccines arrived in Canada, Kiran also knew she could play a larger role, as vice-chair of quality and innovation at the University of Toronto’s Department of Family and Community Medicine.

With U of T colleagues, Kiran created interactive online modules for primary care physicians — accessible to anyone — to provide guidance on the vaccines, from the safety of mRNA vaccines to how to help patients feel confident.

Kiran put aside her other academic work to produce the modules, which she calls a “one-stop way for people to learn” to help bring emerging evidence to the doctor’s office.

Throughout the pandemic, Kiran has co-led bi-weekly webinars for primary care physicians covering top-of-mind COVID issues. Since vaccines were approved, 600 to 900 family doctors regularly join the webinars, many telling Kiran they provide a place to review the latest evidence and a sense of community during a challenging time.

“The notes I get telling me it’s made a difference make my day,” says Kiran, who has also used her platform to push for a more equitable pandemic response.

This year, the Star profiled Kiran’s efforts to help hesitant patients feel more confident. The story followed a mother and daughter as they consulted Kiran on whether to get vaccinated.

“We think of anti-vaxxers as an extreme group. But there are so many people who come from humble circumstances who’ve been struggling with the decision about their vaccines. I think (the story) helped people to empathize and better understand what people are going through when they’re not sure about a vaccine.”

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