COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy a concern amid rising case numbers

Click to play video: 'Concerns abound over COVID-19 ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated’' Concerns abound over COVID-19 ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated’
While Montreal residents are doing their best to enjoy the rest of the summer as fall approaches, others are thinking of rising COVID-19 infections. Health authorities are calling this fourth wave a "pandemic of the unvaccinated." Phil Carpenter has more – Sep 4, 2021

Getting COVID-19 vaccination rates up continues to be an ongoing challenge and as case numbers continue to shoot upwards across the country, more attention is being focused on the unvaccinated.

Health-care workers, like nurse Lisa Ouaknine, worry about the rising infections.

“Yes, very concerned,” she told Global News while taking a break from a bike ride near the Atwater Market. “I think that we could have reached more people with vaccination and that may have helped.”

Health officials say the number of cases now are vastly higher than this time a year ago, driven by the more contagious Delta COVID-19 variant. They call this fourth wave the pandemic one of the unvaccinated and that around 80 per cent of infections are among that population.

Read more: Quebec reports 666 new COVID 19 cases, one death, hospitalizations remain stable

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Ouaknine, who works in a vaccination clinic, thinks about the strain that hospitals are under.

“There is a societal obligation, I think, to care for one another, and getting vaccinated is just one more way,” she pointed out.

She’s glad about the rate of vaccination in the province. According to health ministry figures, 87 per cent of the Quebec population ages 12 and older have two doses.

Still, Ouiknine is concerned about those hesitating.

“We have had people believe that we are microchipping them, we have people just sort of unsure about the timeline in which this vaccine was created in,” she noted.

Read more: Quebec’s vaccine passport comes into effect today. Here’s what you need to know

Behavioural epidemiologist Simon Bacon co-authored a global study released recently, which helps explain vaccination rates and hesitancy. It’s part of the International COVID-19 Awareness and Responses Evaluation meant to measure public attitudes around the pandemic.

The survey found that vaccine holdouts fall into two categories.

One is conspiracy theorists and those opposed to vaccinations, which Bacon says is between 5 to 10 per cent of the group. The other group, according to him, are people who are just hesitating.

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“The two things that are the biggest drivers of their decision making is still safety and efficacy,” Bacon pointed out.

He stresses that if governments want to reach this population, health authorities need to do more to address those concerns.

“The good news is that there is a lot of data that’s now coming out showing more than ever how safe these vaccines are,” he said.

The Concordia University professor believes that things like vaccine passports are unlikely to get these people to change their minds and that they could be more receptive to education.

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