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Vaccine hesitancy still a concern in areas of B.C.: experts

Click to play video: 'Vaccine hesitancy still an issue in parts of B.C.' Vaccine hesitancy still an issue in parts of B.C.
While health officials have said we need about three quarters of the population to be vaccinated to see life return to "somewhat" normal, we still have a "ways" to go to get there. As Aaron Mcarthur reports, more and more people are getting their shots but some parts of the province are lagging behind. – May 19, 2021

The number of people rolling up their sleeves for a COVID-19 vaccine is growing in B.C., but there are still areas where uptake remains low.

So far, 59 percent of eligible British Columbians — 44 per cent of the province’s entire population — have been immunized, but vaccine hesitancy remains a concern.

Fort St. John and The University of British Columbia each have vaccination rates of about 30 percent, while just 28 percent of Peace River North residents have been inoculated.

Read more: Kids 12 to 17 years old can now register for the COVID-19 vaccine in British Columbia

Health Minister Adrian Dix has said some of the low numbers can be attributed to demographics, as UBC traditionally has a younger population on average.

Click to play video: 'Will enough eligible B.C. adults take advantage of COVID-19 shot?' Will enough eligible B.C. adults take advantage of COVID-19 shot?
Will enough eligible B.C. adults take advantage of COVID-19 shot? – May 16, 2021

Family doctors across the province have been trying to keep up with questions as well, hoping increased education will inspire confidence in residents who might be reluctant.

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Pop-up clinics and outreach efforts in places of worship have also helped.

Read more: Vaccine hesitancy is a global threat. Experts say watch out for coronavirus misinformation

“Surprisingly, what we have found effective since we started is just repeat messaging,” explained Dr. Madhu Jawanda with the South Asian COVID-19 Task Force.

“We just have to keep on repeating the same message.”

People have chosen to go unvaccinated for a number of reasons, including waiting for more information or not wanting to queue-jump, she said.

Read more: 750K more COVID-19 vaccinations needed for B.C. to start reopening: expert

According to polling firm Insights West as many as 23 percent of Canadians are apt to believe vaccine misinformation.

“I think of my mom for example, who took the AstraZeneca vaccine after my recommendation,” Doctors of B.C. president Dr. Matthew Chow said.

“That was a tough conversation.”

The Public Health Agency of Canada says 75 percent is the vaccination target for opening the border, and restarting activities that have been paused.

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