Dr. Ian Gemmill gets it. The acting medical officer of health for the HKPR Health Unit says he appreciates how some may be skeptical of the new COVID-19 vaccines’ efficacy – and safety. “Vaccine hesitancy is an interest of mine,” Gemmill tells Denis Grignon, host of The Advocate Podcast: Stories from Kawartha Lakes, in the most recent episode.
“We do have a society that is more questioning than it was 50 year ago. There are a lot of people out there who have questions. And I think the questions, actually, are quite reasonable.” Particularly, he concedes, when it comes to the speed with which the vaccines were developed – less than 10 months, compared to the years it typically takes.
But he’s more buoyed and excited about what he fervently believes is the science and data that counters the arguments trotted out by those who are reluctant or outright opposed to getting the vaccine.
Both the Moderna and Pfizer shots, the only two approved in Canada thus far, are now being administered to the most vulnerable sectors in Kawartha Lakes. Rollouts to other groups are expected in the coming months.
About the innovative MRNA technology that was used to create the two vaccines, Gemmill says, “It’s a new way of doing business. But I can assure people that it was not a question of taking short cuts.”
Indeed, the roll-out of the vaccine in other countries is seeing a positive impact. And for those who are on the fence or taking a wait-and-see approach, Gemmill offers this reassurance: “Now we have millions of people who have received them worldwide, without (any) major or serious side-effects.”
“We’re just lucky. Lucky that we got a vaccine quickly. Lucky that we got a vaccine that works…that has been demonstrated to be safe.”
He’s also inspired by recent surveys that show vaccine hesitancy is not as prevalent as it was earlier on in the pandemic.
“The most important thing for us to do as public health people is to be there to answer those questions – in a truthful and sincere way. So that people can feel assured. They have to feel good and they have to feel confident.”
Listen to the full interview with Dr Ian Gemmill in Episode #25 of The Advocate Podcast, sponsored by Wards Lawyers. (wardlegal.ca). Subscribe for free on Spotify or Apple Podcasts. Or listen via lindsayadvocate.ca