The Quebec government will launch an advertising campaign to try and convince young people to get their COVID-19 vaccinations.
Health Minister Christian Dubé admitted people 18 to 39 are slower to book vaccine appointments than other generations, and that is delaying the rollout process for teenagers.
“We still have in the category of 18 to 40 about 350,000 have not been vaccinated yet. And that’s the reason we open the vaccination for the 12 to 17 only next Tuesday,” Dubé said.
The advertising campaign will run on television, radio and social media in both English and French.
It aims to convince young people to book their appointment.
“We have chosen to target 25-45 more in our TV advertising because we know that the intention rate is a little lower for this age group,” said Health Ministry spokesman Robert Maranda. “This brand new campaign emphasizes the importance of vaccination, so that we can once again enjoy some daily moments with our loved ones.
“Dining with friends, playing team sports, hugging a family member: each vaccine given brings us closer to those moments.”
Experts say there are many reasons why young people are slower to book vaccination appointments than older generations. Skepticism about vaccine safety and the belief they won’t get sick are some of the reasons. Doctors say it’s critical they understand everyone must be vaccinated.
“They have to understand they are getting vaccinated to protect themselves against COVID, to prevent the emergence of new potential dangerous variants,” said Dr. Don Sheppard, Director of the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity. “They need to understand natural infection won’t save them, and of course they are protecting older adults. If they have these answers its much easier for them to make their decision.”
Some doctors say the government should offer vaccination incentives, like tax rebates.
“Sometimes people need a bit of a nudge. It’s great to speak theoretically about vaccination but if you can provide a practical benefit they understand, that usually helps too,” said epidemiologist Dr. Christopher Labos.
The government says it is relying on local CIUSSS to help convince people to get vaccinated.
“We are aware that speaking in people’s mother tongue helps to better convince them of the importance of getting vaccinated. Community workers are currently doing exemplary work in Montreal,” Maranda said. “To reach these people, the CIUSSS has realized that short-lived vaccination clinics are the best way, the popularity is immediate more than the large vaccination centres.
“But the key to success is the close collaboration that the CIUSSS maintains with community organizations in the sector, which is very important to us.”