OFFICIAL PUBLIC HEALTH GUIDELINES
This section features COVID-19-related links to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous governments and public health authorities throughout the country as well as internationally.
GOVERNMENT OF CANADA –
INDIGENOUS SERVICES CANADA
Resources and information related to COVID-19 intended to support First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities in preparing for, monitoring and responding to COVID-19. Find the latest second wave outbreak data, mental health and wellness, PPE and vaccine distribution plans, as well as information on specific support for students, children and families, as well as businesses, communities and other organizations.
INDIGENOUS HEALTH INFORMATION
COVID-19 related resources made available by First Nations, Inuit and Métis organizations nationally or regionally on subjects such as: infection prevention and control, mental wellness, social and economic supports, training opportunities, regional contact information, 24h crisis lines, daily updates and videos, emergency preparedness, travel advice, and guidance documents in a variety of Indigenous languages or intended specifically for urban, rural, remote or northern communities.
- Assembly of First Nations (AFN) – COVID-19
- Métis National Council – COVID19
- Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) – COVID-19 Infographics
- Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) – COVID-19 Information
- National Aboriginal Council of Midwives (NACM)
- First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) – Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
GOVERNMENT OF CANADA –
PUBLIC HEALTH AGENCY OF CANADA (PHAC)
Resources and information on COVID-19, including: current situation data, symptoms and treatment for individuals, prevention and control measures, financial and economic support, re-opening businesses and schools, travel and immigration, as well as advice for seniors, veterans, parents and children.
INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC HEALTH RESOURCES
Guidance documents and other information related to COVID-19 produced by international organizations or foreign countries, with a special focus on resources specifically intended for Indigenous individuals, organizations and communities.
COVID-19 VACCINE IMPLEMENTATION TOOLKIT
IPHCC has developed a toolkit to support Indigenous organizations with the planning and implementation of community-level COVID-19 vaccination clinics, with assistance from mainstream organizations such as local public health units, primary care agencies, and/or hospital settings.
6 STEPS TO EFFECTIVE ENGAGEMENT FOR VACCINE DISTRIBUTION WITH INDIGENOUS PEOPLES (ENGAGEMENT GUIDE)
During the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, it’s important that health agencies effectively engage with Indigenous communities, a priority group, in the planning process. To learn more about how to effectively engage Indigenous Peoples, please follow the link below.Engagement Guide
STRATEGIES TO SUPPORT INDIGENOUS PARTICIPATION IN ONTARIO’S COVID-19 REPONSE (ONLINE MODULE)
COVID-19 has highlighted the inequities in healthcare and the social determinants of health for structurally-marginalized populations, including Indigenous peoples. It has also demonstrated the strengths of those same communities, especially by the way they’ve continued to support each other during the pandemic.Online Module
- How to self-isolate
- Self isolation: Guide for caregivers, household members and close contacts
- COVID-19 self-assessment (This self-assessment must be taken in the case of an exposure or if one is symptomatic).
- Report of Adverse Event following Immunization (AEFI) Requisition
- Sample letter for physicians to share with parents about vaccines for children
COVID-19 EDUCATION SESSION WITH DR. DANIEL WARSHAFSKY
Thank you for joining the Indigenous Primary Health Care Council, the Alliance for Healthier Communities, and the Association of Family Health Teams of Ontario on Wednesday June 9th, for the COVID-19 Education Session with Dr. Daniel Warshafsky, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health.
Dr. Warshafsky provided updates on vaccine efficacy, breakthrough cases, Variants of Concern, vaccinations for youth, as well as a number of other questions raised by attendees.
Nicole Blackman, Provincial Director at the Indigenous Primary Health Care Council also spoke about why it was crucial that Indigenous people are prioritized to receive vaccines.Download Slide Deck
MAAD’OOKIING MSHKIKI – SHARING MEDICINE
First Nations, Inuit & Métis Perspectives & Knowledge Sharing on COVID-19 Vaccines
Public Health authorities have begun rolling out COVID-19 vaccines to prioritized populations, including segments of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities. Despite the prioritization of these populations, there may be barriers to the uptake of COVID -19 vaccinations across our communities for numerous complex and context-specific reasons. One of the barriers identified by our communities and by service providers, decision-makers, Elders and Knowledge Keepers is a lack of culturally safe and relevant educational materials about vaccination. It is critical to address this need urgently due to the rising rates of covid within some of our communities as well as the ongoing barriers related to a lack of cultural safety in the healthcare system.View Resources
Immunization is a personal choice; however, it will help us protect one another. Immunization will help protect the Elders, family members, friends, loved ones and the community. It is essential for protecting those who are at high risk for severe complications such as:
- Elders and older adults
- Residential and staff long-term care, designated supportive living and seniors’ lodges
- Persons with underlying health conditions
Resource: “Smudge Campaign” Link
First Nation, Métis and Inuit members have been prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccines due to higher risks of contracting and being severely affected by COVID. The following factors were taken into consideration when prioritizing Indigenous Populations:
- Booster dose prioritization for adults from indigenous communities was considered as they were offered COVID-19 vaccines much earlier than the rest of the population. This may increase the risk of waning protection because a large gap has passed since their second dose and because several members were vaccinated with short interval between doses.
- Nationally, Indigenous communities suffered more due to the rise of COVID-19 cases because the cases started to rise in First Nations communities in August 2021 at a rate that was 4.2 times higher than the general population.
- Canadians who identify as Indigenous and those who exhibit at least one underlying medical condition may experience more severe COVID-19 outcomes. Therefore, the Indigenous population is at a higher risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes as compared to the general population. The greater risk of severe outcomes renders Indigenous communities as the most suitable candidate for third doses and booster doses in order to reduce and prevent the continuous sufferings associated with COVID-19.
- In Indigenous communities the risk of infection is higher because it is difficult to maintain social distancing due to overcrowded settings. Additionally, there are challenges with other preventative measures so individuals may not be best protected from the exposure to COVID-19.
- Remote and isolated communities lack readily available resources to assist them in the prevention of COVID-19 due to blockages in healthcare services. This increases their risk to severe outcomes and ultimately results in death and societal disruption within the community and its members.
Minor side effects after vaccinations are normal because it is the body’s natural way of responding to the vaccine. However, common side effects of COVID-19 can range from hours to a few days, and they include:
- Pain at the injection side
Vaccines are safe to take because only the ones that are scientifically proven safe, effective and high quality are authorized for use in Canada. The COVID-19 vaccines have undergone a series of testing, clinical trials and assessments during their development followed by Health Canada’s revision before authorization.
There is no scientific evidence that suggests that there is any correlation between fertility issues and vaccinations. To date, there is no such evidence or research that supports that claim that COVID-19 vaccines can affect fertility. Moreover, there is no association between COVID-19 vaccination and menstrual irregularities.
First Nations living off reserve, Inuit and Métis will receive the COVID-19 vaccines through their provincial or territorial health services. You can visit your provincial or territorial website to find out more information about how to book an appointment and local vaccination clinics.
Vaccination receipts will be provided with at the time of your vaccination from an Ontario vaccine clinic during your appointment or by an Indigenous Health Provider during your appointment. As proof of vaccination, you can show a paper copy of your vaccination receipt or a digital copy. Receipts must include your name, date of vaccination and product (brand of vaccine) at the time of vaccination. You may be required to confirm that the vaccine receipt is yours by showing identification issues by an institution or public body that includes your name and date of birth. As of Monday October 18, the enhanced vaccine certificates with scannable QR codes are available for all vaccinated Ontarians to download, however both electronic and paper versions of the vaccine receipts are and will continue to remain valid until further changes.
It can be difficult to determine the authenticity of sources due to the increase in excessive information available on social media and different outlets. However, in order to verify a credible source, you can check the source of the information and whether it is updated regularly. Information updated and posted by your primary care givers, local health units and community organizations can be relied on to receive information about COVID-19.
Factors to consider for verifying the authenticity of the sources are as follows:
- Who are the authors? Can you trust them? Can they be contacted?
- Has the site been developed by a reputable organization?
- Does the information seem reasonable?
- Who can be contacted for more information?
COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, planning on pregnancy, or who might become pregnant soon. Pregnant and recently pregnant people are at a higher risk of severe illness from COID-19 compared with non-pregnant people. Severe illness can require hospitalization, intensive care, ventilation, difficulty breathing or illness that results in death. There are numerous of benefits of getting the vaccine during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Infact, data suggests that receiving an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy reduces the risk for infection. It is also safe for pregnant woman and those who were recently pregnant to safely receive booster shots as well. Moreover, vaccination builds antibodies that help protect the baby against COVID-19. If hesitation about getting a vaccine persists, you can contact your health care provider to discuss your decision about vaccination.
Although COVID-19 vaccines were developed rapidly, all steps were taken to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. A series of steps were involved before the vaccine was released to the public, such as:
- Approach development: Scientists have been involved in developing vaccines to combat viruses such as COVID-19.
- Clinical Trials: Vaccines undergo three phases of clinical trials to ensure the safety and effectiveness of its use.
- Authorization or Approval: before vaccines were available to the public, findings from the clinical trials were carefully assessed. After the vaccines aligned with the safety and effectiveness standards, they were granted permission to be used. After the release of the vaccine, there is a COVID-19 vaccine safety monitoring system in place to track the safety of the vaccine.
On May 5th, Health Canada authorized the use of Pfizer vaccines for children who are as young as 12. Even if children are young and healthy, vaccination should be used as a preventative measure to help protect them from the exposure to COVID-19 and the Delta Variant. Although COVID-19 can have less severe outcomes for children compared to adults, it can make them sick, require hospitalization and some deaths may also occur. Vaccinating your child will help protect family members and loved ones who may be at a higher risk of severe outcomes if infected with COVID-19.
The appointment for second doses should be generally after 8 weeks. However, if there has been a delay the appointment needs to be booked as soon as possible.
The COVID-19 vaccine helps build immunity to the virus, so that our body can fight it off more easily. The vaccine reduces the risk of getting sick from COVID-19 or in the case that you do get infected, the side effects will be milder. In order to get the full protection against the virus, it is essential to complete the full 2-doses vaccine series. The importance of the COVID-19 vaccine is that it aids in the long-term protection against COVID-19. According to results from a recent testing, the vaccine was 95% effective in protecting 16 years old and 100% effective in protecting 12-15 years old.
Yes, the flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine can be administered simultaneously or with close intervals just like other common vaccines such as influenza or HPV are administered.
It is recommended to get vaccinated even in the case that you have fully recovered from COVID-19 after being infected.
A different COVID-19 vaccine may be offered for your second dose. This is known as a mixed vaccine schedule.
For those who are severely immunocompromised due to disease or treatment, they may have a lower immune response to COVId-19 vaccination, therefore it is recommended that they get a booster shot or third dose following their 2-dose vaccine series.
The vaccines will not alter the DNA in any way. MRNA and viral vector vaccines instruct our cells to start building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19, however these instructions do not interact with our DNA.
Children will be receiving the pediatric Pfizer vaccine, which is lower in dosage compared to youth and adults. This formulation is different because it has one-third of the amount given to individuals 12 and older, in a two-dose series at a recommended interval of eight weeks. It is common for pediatric vaccine doses to be lower than those for adults because the immune response is robust in children. According to Health Canada, lower-dose pediatric vaccines are just as protective for adults than they are for children.
Allergic reactions are rare and if they do occur it would be between 15 and 30 minutes after vaccination. During the vaccine appointment, your child will be monitored for any reactions to the vaccine. If there is a history of serious allergic reactions, the vaccinator should be notified. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include the following:
- Hives (itchy bumps on the skin)
- Swelling of the face, tongue or throat
- Difficulty breathing
If any of the above occurs, call emergency services immediately.
According to the Pfizer Study, there were no serious adverse events reported for children. Some children might experience mild symptoms, while others can get sicker and require hospitalization/or ICU admission and they may also experience more longer lasting symptoms, however the most common symptoms are as follows:
- Sore arm near the injection site
- Feeling more tired than usual
- Achy muscles or joints
Patients are asked to stay at the vaccination clinic for at least 15 minutes after vaccinations so they can detect any adverse reactions and treat them as soon as possible. Signs and symptoms after vaccination can include:
- Itchy rash
- Swelling of the: lips, face, airway and tongue
- Increased heart rate
- Loss of consciousness
- Sudden low blood pressure
- Abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea
- Sneezing, coughing and difficulty breathing
If any of the above symptoms are experienced after leaving the vaccination site, report it to your health care provider immediately. Call emergency services as soon as possible of you develop any serious symptoms that could possibly be an allergic reaction to the vaccine.
A booster dose is recommended for someone who has completed first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine series to restore the full protection of the vaccine that may be decreased over time due to waning immunity.
A third dose is recommended for those who are severely or moderately immunocompromised, which may have prevented them from developing a strong response to the two doses. Expanding the vaccine series to three doses will boost the immune response to COVID-19.
The benefits of getting the vaccine outweigh the risks of any side effects. COVID-19 symptoms may cause more long-lasting symptoms and harmful health problems for children. Similar to other vaccinations, children might experience mild side effects and reactions that will subside in a few days after vaccination. Common side effects may include redness and swelling on the arm where the vaccine was given, tiredness, muscle soreness headache or mild fever.
Applying a cool damp cloth where the vaccine was given may health with the soreness and swelling of the arm. If need be, please speak with your health-care provider about giving your child over-the counter pain or fever medications. Doing the above may help with mild side effects such as headache, muscle pain and fever.
Vaccination sites will accommodate the vaccine sites to ensure that they are adhering to a child-friendly and welcoming environment. Sites will be offering sensory toys for the children, and they will ensure that the clinics are bright with little noise, so the children feel comfortable. Privacy like cubicles and family pods may be offered so that the parent and child remain while the child receives the vaccine. Additionally, public health units will be offering vaccinations through various channels such as schools to facilitate access and ease.