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Originally published in: The Globe and Mail
By Dr. Vincent Lam
Vincent Lam is the co-author of The Flu Pandemic and You. He is a practising physician, a faculty member at the University of Toronto, and the medical director of the Coderix Medical Clinic.
Imagine you want to bake a lot of bread. More than 30 million loaves. Would you go to a busy baker who already produces millions of loaves? Or would you give the job to a fancy pastry chef, and tell the bread maker to wait and maybe pitch in later?
Primary care providers – family doctors and nurse practitioners – have long been public health’s strongest partner at getting vaccines to their patients. They are the experts at reaching those whom public health misses. Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout needs to leverage their skill and capacity. In 2019, 40.2 per cent of flu shots were given in primary care offices. Only 4.9 per cent of flu shots were administered in the type of temporary vaccination clinics that every province is now scrambling to create for COVID-19 vaccines. Meanwhile, Ontario’s COVID-19 Vaccination Task Force includes a retired police chief and, until she resigned for travelling outside the country, the chief executive of a car parts supplier, but no family physician. Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization has no family physician members, though it does have one as a liaison.
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