Advertisement

COVID-19: Mixed messaging around AstraZeneca vaccine highlights public distrust, uncertainty

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Mixed messaging around AstraZeneca vaccine highlights public distrust, uncertainty' COVID-19: Mixed messaging around AstraZeneca vaccine highlights public distrust, uncertainty
WATCH: Mixed messaging around the AstraZeneca vaccine is leaving people with more questions than answers – May 12, 2021

Mixed messaging around the AstraZeneca vaccine is leaving people in Saskatchewan with more questions than answers amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

For those who have already gotten their first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine, it’s unclear what to do next.

Do you mix vaccines or stick with the same one?

Read more: Saskatchewan’s top doctor says COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness seems to be 99% or higher

“Likely based on supply, Pfizer would be the likely second dose given,” said Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, on Tuesday.

“We will make sure that those who got the AstraZeneca vaccine first can be provided with a second dose,” said Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, in a contradictory statement Tuesday.

Story continues below advertisement

Saskatchewan is no longer giving AstraZeneca for first doses due to supply issues, but confusion appeared to push people away even when it was offered.

Click to play video: 'STC clinic to vaccinate 300 Saskatoon police officers against COVID-19 over two days' STC clinic to vaccinate 300 Saskatoon police officers against COVID-19 over two days
STC clinic to vaccinate 300 Saskatoon police officers against COVID-19 over two days – Apr 21, 2021

The Saskatoon Tribal Council’s (STC) vaccination clinic at SaskTel Centre had 2,000 doses for walk-ins last week; only around 300 were given because no one came.

Tribal Chief Mark Arcand said information, including who is eligible for which vaccine isn’t made clear enough by the province.

“Saying AstraZeneca’s only for 40+ people and Pfizer’s good for 12-year-olds, those messages have to be very clear,” Arcand said.

He said he’s disappointed so few people took advantage of the walk-in clinic; meanwhile, it has more than 16,000 people on a waitlist for the Pfizer vaccine at the same clinic.

Story continues below advertisement

Vaccine trust on the rise: survey

Dr. Alexander Wong, an infectious disease physician in Regina, said if you’re waiting for the second dose and deciding whether to mix, things get complicated.

“What the right thing to do is if AstraZeneca is actually available, do you give all that AstraZeneca as second doses, do you just kind of throw all that out and just give Pfizer to everybody?” he said.

Read more: AstraZeneca vaccine 1st dose recipients in limbo after some provinces press pause

He said more data is needed to know what’s safe, but still stressed the importance of getting vaccinated.

Trust in vaccines is up among Canadians since January, according to a survey from Proof Strategies. It found 76 per cent of Western Canadians trust vaccines. Which vaccine they trust, though, varies.

“Almost from the start we’ve heard mixed messages about AstraZeneca,” explained vice president Josh Cobden.

“Whether it was the quality of their research, whether it was the way it needs to be stored and transported, or the ages, and now of course the issues with blood clots.”

He said that while around 80 per cent of Canadians trust the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, only around 45 per cent trust AstraZeneca.

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video: '‘One-dose spring, two-dose summer’ in Saskatchewan, Scott Moe says' ‘One-dose spring, two-dose summer’ in Saskatchewan, Scott Moe says
‘One-dose spring, two-dose summer’ in Saskatchewan, Scott Moe says – May 12, 2021

The older people are, the more trusting they are of vaccines, according to the survey; it found the most distrust in vaccines among young people under 25, while those older than 75 overwhelmingly trusted them.

A shipment of AstraZeneca is expected in Saskatchewan next week, according to the province.

If it arrives, the province said those who received their first dose of AstraZeneca already will be contacted about the second.

Advertisement

Sponsored content