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Your health and wellness related questions answered

Virtual care · Jun 14, 2021

Last month, we asked our readers to anonymously submit their health questions. Dr. Dominik Nowak, Chair, TELUS Medical Advisory Council has carefully considered each question and provided his insight. 

Here are just a few of the questions we received:

1.      I wonder how the mRNA technology in the COVID-19 vaccines works. Do vaccines, specifically the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, change your DNA?

The COVID-19 mRNA vaccines provide your body with instructions for how to make a protein that will trigger your body’s natural immune response. This response builds your body’s own immune system, preparing you to fight the actual COVID-19 virus if you encounter it in the future. The mRNA vaccines cannot change your DNA, and in fact, our bodies break down the mRNA soon after we make the protein.

Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines here:

2.      I received the AstraZeneca vaccine and saw that it is now no longer being administered in certain provinces. Should I be worried?

The AstraZeneca vaccine is a great example of how evolving science can lead to precautionary changes in policy. In the past few weeks, many of us made the wise decision to choose the AstraZeneca vaccine. Rest assured, you made an excellent choice. At the height of the third wave here at home, it made sense for Canadians to get vaccinated as soon as possible rather than waiting for another vaccine.

Unlike the mRNA vaccines, the AstraZeneca vaccine has a clotting risk from a condition called “Vaccine-Induced Immune Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia” (VITT). This clotting risk is rare, but higher than previously thought—1 case per 26,000 to 1 case per 127,000 doses— which is much lower compared to the risk of blood clots associated with COVID-19 infection. According to Thrombosis Canada, having had a previous blood clot may put you at higher risk of future clots, but this risk is compared to the blood clot risk of one in three people who end up in a critical care bed from COVID. Note, the risk of a blood clot is mainly with the first dose and significantly lower with your second dose of AstraZeneca vaccine. On top of that, we have very little AstraZeneca vaccine left in Canada, and expect to have an ample supply of the mRNA vaccines. If you have the choice between different vaccines for your second dose, see this helpful infographic to support your decision.  If you have any questions about the COVID-19 vaccines, always connect with your trusted health professional.

3.      What could be the cause for the ringing in my ears?  Can I do anything to make it go away?

Ringing, buzzing, or hissing in one’s ears, also called tinnitus, is a very common condition for people to experience at some point in their lives. According to a Statistics Canada report, over one in three Canadian adults had experienced tinnitus in the year prior at the time of the survey in 2019. For some, it can be quite severe and impact sleep, mental health, and day-to-day activities. Tinnitus may come with no identifiable cause, but there are also a number of other issues that can lead to tinnitus, such as persistent exposure to loud noises, neurological diseases, dental disorders, medications, and more. As a result, it is important to speak with a health professional about the symptom and possible solutions. In addition to your primary care professional, a hearing specialist like an audiologist and/or an ear, nose, and throat specialist may be involved in your care.

4.      Is there anything that can be done to reverse or slow hair loss?

Hair loss comes from a variety of different forms, some of them very common and others more rare. Even healthy people shed around 50-100 hairs daily. Depending on the type of hair loss you have, a visit to your primary care professional or dermatologist can help personalize your treatment plan. It is important to seek care early to explore what you can do proactively to care for your hair. It may involve some basic bloodwork, certain topical or oral medications, all the way up to more advanced options like hair transplant.

5.      I have vitiligo and often wonder, is there a cure for it?

Vitiligo is a condition in which our skin loses melanocytes, the cells responsible for producing pigment in skin, hair, and nails. It is neither dangerous or contagious, even though people may get white patches throughout their body. Depending on the extent of vitiligo, your health professional can help tailor your plan to your needs — this might involve topical medications or options like a specific form of light therapy. For all skin diseases, it is important to remember that they can have an impact on self-confidence and mental health, and to always connect with a mental health professional proactively.

This article was published on June 14th, 2021. All the information included reflects the reality as of these dates, but please note that the COVID-19 situation, and the related vaccination campaign and research, is constantly evolving. Please refer to your municipal, provincial and federal updates for the most up to date developments on the COVID-19 vaccine.


As part of our commitment to making healthcare more accessible, we have brought together the best-in-class features of our Akira by TELUS Health and EQ Care services to offer you on-demand virtual care service and employee assistance features, all with an enhanced focus on genuine human connections at every step of their journey. Discover TELUS Health Virtual Care.