Nearly 40 per cent of Manitobans hesitant about getting COVID-19 vaccine

WINNIPEG — Not all Manitobans would be quick to roll up their sleeves for the COVID-19 vaccine if given the opportunity, according to a new study.

Prairie Research Associates used its Manitoba Panel to survey 1,000 people between Jan. 7 and 11. The survey found nearly 40 per cent of Manitobans surveyed are hesitant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The results, which were released on Tuesday, said the non-probability sample shows if the vaccine was available today, 63 per cent of people surveyed were not hesitant, while 37 per cent were hesitant to get the vaccine.

“I think part of it is really a line with some of the reports that we’ve seen that maybe haven’t necessarily discussed how much data there actually has been and how much thought has gone into the development of these vaccines and why really we have been able to expedite the creation vaccines for this particular public health crisis,” said Jason Kindrachuk, a University of Manitoba virologist and Canada Research Chair in emerging viruses.

Women make up 44 per cent of the Manitobans who say they are hesitant to get the vaccine, saying they are concerned about a lack of research into long-term effects. About half of those are concerned with long-term side effects and 41 per cent of hesitant Manitobans said medical risks are too high and there are too many unknowns.

“When you look at 90 to 95 per cent effectiveness, that’s unheard of for a brand new vaccine. Does that mean that this is always going to be the way that vaccines are formatted? Not necessarily. We may find that there’s a new formulation coming out in the next few years that in fact gives us a much longer period of protection,” Kindrachuk said.

“This is something new. This is some new technology or something new to them. In the basic science world, they have been working with these kinds of materials for quite some time in application for other kinds of treatments, but for us in the general public, this is like, ‘Woah, I find that just a little bit new,’” said University of Manitoba Department of Community Health Sciences Professor Michelle Driedger.

Driedger said within those numbers are the ‘moveable middle’ – those who may change their minds as more information becomes available.

“It’s those people who are leaning towards accepting the vaccines, but they have questions and they want to have certain kinds of information,” Driedger said.

“Likewise, others who might be leaning no, but if they had the right kind of information or at least if they felt like they were being given complete information and understanding all aspects of it, then they would feel more comfortable in their choice in accepting a vaccine.”

The survey also said 31 per cent of hesitant people said others need the vaccine more than they do.

Driedger said because the vaccine is being used on a global level, the knowledge around the safe data has been growing substantially.

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