Let’s talk about Vaccine Hesitancy
As the COVID-19 vaccine continues to roll out in countries around the globe, many are eager to receive their vaccination. However, there is still a significant concern of vaccine hesitancy.
In general, vaccine hesitancy represents one’s reluctance to be vaccinated, which can be attributed to a variety of factors. According to a 2020 IPSOS survey of 1,001 Canadians, 28% would wait six months to see if the new COVID-19 vaccines are effective before getting vaccinated. Comparably, in January 2021, an Angus Reid survey of 1,580 Canadians found that 56% of people between the ages of 18 and 54, and 17% of those over 55, would wait to get the new COVID-19 vaccines.
Concerns regarding the COVID-19 vaccination are complex, however common apprehensions surround vaccine safety. This is likely due to the perceived rapid development of the COVID-19 vaccine by researchers. Contrary to popular misconception, although these vaccines were developed so quickly, they have undergone the same thorough clinical trials overseen by Health Canada, just as any other drug. These vaccines were developed with data gathered from long-standing studies of similar viruses. Additionally, significant public and private funding aided in development, and to save time, regulators allowed all three clinical trial phases and regulatory evaluation to run in parallel. These time-saving measures supported the development of safe and effective vaccines in less than a year.
Despite this, some Canadians are still concerned about potential adverse reactions to the vaccines. These reactions are rare, usually occurring within weeks of vaccination, and the most common adverse reactions are typically identified in the third phase of clinical trials. Though we may not yet be aware of all possible adverse reactions to the approved COVID-19 vaccines, vaccinated Canadians are closely monitored to identify these effects. Given the possible consequences of contracting COVID-19, most experts agree that the benefits of being vaccinated outweigh the unlikely possibility of adverse reactions.