Strong leadership key to getting more vaccine-hesitant people vaccinated, Sask. experts say

Click to play video: 'Communication, leadership key in driving vaccination rates: experts' Communication, leadership key in driving vaccination rates: experts
WATCH: The message from the Saskatchewan government has been clear — the way out of the pandemic is vaccinations. But the number of people lining up for the shot is not what the province would hope. – Oct 14, 2021

A steady stream of people poured into the International Trade Centre in Regina on Wednesday.

Some lined up to get booster shots, some to get a third shot to make travel easier while restrictions are still in place, and others to get their first shot of the vaccine.

As we fight the fourth wave of COVID-19, political leaders continue urging those who are vaccine hesitant to get the shot.

Read more: The booster debate: Will you need a third COVID-19 shot?

Over the past 30 days, the total number of people fully vaccinated in Saskatchewan is up by 7 per cent.

Current COVID-19 restrictions and health measures seem to be working, but vaccination rates could be higher across Saskatchewan.

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Some political experts say that for numbers to continue trending upward, trusted communication from leaders within the community is key to getting more of the unvaccinated population vaccinated.

Read more: COVID-19: Saskatchewan sees record-high case numbers in September, leaders rely on vaccines

Pamela Downe, University of Saskatchewan medical anthropology professor, says, “When leaders insert themselves and are accepted as a central part of society, they can make all kinds of changes and influential moments forward.”

“When that one leader, when that one person who people trust begins to role-model the ways in which we can move out of the pandemic, or recover from a natural disaster, or whatever the occasion may be, you can definitely see that trickle-down effect.”

At this point in the pandemic, that could be difficult in Saskatchewan.

An Angus-Reid poll on Canadian leaders shows Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe’s approval rating slipping to 43 per cent, a drop of 18 points since June 2021.

Read more: ‘System is creaking’: Unvaccinated COVID-19 patients overwhelm Saskatchewan hospitals

Kim Coates, University of Saskatchewan public policy professor, says, “What you’re really seeing overall is simply a natural exhaustion with government. How many directives can we take? How many re-assurances can we receive? How many times can we adjust our own behaviour? Can we go into lockdown (and) come out of lockdown?”

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Political experts believe that when leaders inspire and motivate people to look at any phenomenon in a different way, then you’ll see a gradual shift in the community, and by earning the trust of vaccine hesitant people is when they will shift the collective mindset which could lead to more people into vaccination centres across the province.

Click to play video: 'Experts discuss COVID vaccine hesitancy in Prairies' Experts discuss COVID vaccine hesitancy in Prairies
Experts discuss COVID vaccine hesitancy in Prairies – Oct 12, 2021

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