New poll highlights Canadian vaccination concerns

Vaccine concerns on display

The latest poll from Insights West indicates widely held misconceptions and uncertainties around COVID-19 vaccines.

As the pace of vaccinations increases across the country, a new survey by Insights West shows that the vast majority of Canadians intend to get the vaccination when their age group comes up, however, there is a sizeable minority who do not intend to get it, and that there are significant concerns about the vaccine among both those who intend to receive the vaccine and those who do not.

The survey says 50 per cent are concerned about the short and long-term side effects of the vaccines and a notable minority, 25 per cent, think the vaccine will not be effective.

In addition to those who have received the vaccine to date, just under half of remaining Canadians, 43 per cent are ‘100% certain’ they will get the vaccine when it is made available to them. However, nearly one-in-six, or 15 per cent, will not or are unlikely to get it—specifically, 9 per cent are not likely to get it, and 5 per cent are ‘100% certain’ they will not receive the vaccine.

Interesting differences arise in vaccine hesitancy among various subgroups. British Columbia residents are more likely than those from other provinces to express with 100 per cent certainty that they will be getting the vaccine, 54 per cent as opposed to between 37 per cent and 48 per cent for other provinces. Federal conservative voters, 20 per cent, are three times as likely as Liberal, 7 per cent or NDP, 7 per cent, voters to be hesitant.

There are a wide range of concerns Canadians have about COVID-19 vaccines, and despite assurances of public health officers, politicians and medical community about the safety of the vaccines, these beliefs are fairly widespread. About half of Canadians are concerned about short term, 50 per cent, and long-term 56 per cent, side effects of the vaccines. This belief likely stems at least in part from the general feeling that the vaccine development was too rushed.

Nearly half, 46 per cent, also believe that they don’t have enough information about the safety of the different vaccines, and 35 per cent don’t trust the information coming out about the vaccine. Nearly four in ten or 38 per cent, believe that big pharma is just trying to profit from the vaccine, and a 26 per cent think they are taking enough precautions so they don’t feel the need to get the vaccine. It’s also interesting to note that 23 per cent of Canadians are afraid of injections, which may be a issue as well.

“In our nation-wide poll on vaccine hesitation, I’m surprised at the amount of uncertainty, misinformation, and outright conspiracies around the effectiveness and safety of the COVID-19 vaccine,” says Steve Mossop, president of Insights West.

“These misconceptions are not held among a small, fringe segment of our society, but a rather significant minority, potentially threatening the efforts of health authorities across this nation in fighting the pandemic. Experts have said we need to reach a threshold of 80 per cent vaccinations to beat this virus, and the current polling numbers suggest this will be a challenge.”

One of the more alarming findings is that a full 25 per cent of those polled do not believe the vaccines will be effective. The study shows that males under the age of 55-years-of-age and federal conservative voters are more likely to hold these views.

More than one-third of those who have either received the vaccine or are 100 per cent committed to receiving it say they are concerned about long-term or short-term side effects, three-in-ten believe the vaccine was too rushed.

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