New poll suggests vaccine uncertainty on the rise among some Atlantic Canadians

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Coronavirus: Poll shows vaccine uncertainty on the rise in Atlantic Canada
A new poll from MQO Research reveals that there’s a decreasing number of those who say they’ll get the COVID-19 vaccine once it becomes available, and an increasing number of those uncertain. Graeme Benjamin has more – Jan 29, 2021

Though it may seem many in the Maritimes are excited to get the COVID-19 vaccine, a new poll is suggesting that number is on the decline.

The online poll, conducted by MQO Research at the end of November, shows the number of Atlantic Canadians who plan to get vaccinated has decreased since the spring, dropping from 74 percent in May 2020 to just 66 per cent six months later.

“In May, a safe vaccine didn’t exist, so the idea of having to make a decision about vaccination was still abstract,” said Lianne Sarson, VP, Research and Engagement at MQO Research.

“Although there are a lot of variables at play, it’s possible that when news started rolling in that effective vaccines were around the corner, the decision to take the vaccine or not take the vaccine started to become a real choice for people.”

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MQO says 1,154 residents of Atlantic Canada were polled and the sample was statistically weighted to be representative of the overall population.

Sarson says the poll didn’t reveal people moving from yes to no, but rather the number of people saying yes had decreased while the number of people who were uncertain, increased.

She says a number of factors could have led to that result.

“You’d have to look at information that was coming out on side effects, people not really knowing others that may have made the move to take the vaccine, so all those things are going to be in play,” she said.

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As of Friday, 14,589 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Nova Scotia. Of those, 2,714 Nova Scotians have received their second dose.

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Christopher Labos, a cardiologist with a degree in epidemiology, says vaccine uncertainty is nothing new. He says COVID-19 complacency, along with mixed messaging about the vaccine, have been driving forces behind why some don’t have faith in the vaccine.

But he says that shift is something that can be fixed through education.

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“If you can address their concerns, I think you can get them to understand that this is something that is really important,” said Labos.

“Can we listen to people, can we know what they’re worried about, and can we relieve some of these fears and make them less hesitant about getting the vaccine.”

MQO says another phone-based version of the survey will begin in February, followed by another online version later in the year.

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The polling agency is a member of the Canadian Research Insights Council (CRIC), and “subscribes to the highest standards of information gathering and research ethics in the industry in Canada.”

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