Combatting vaccine hesitancy

·2 min read

Chatham-Kent's seniors are rolling up their sleeves as fast as they can for the COVID-19 vaccine and health professionals are hoping younger people will follow suit even though they're worried about how quickly it was developed.

Combatting misinformation about vaccines is one of the greatest hurdles leaders are facing in the battle against COVID-19 as people question whether they should get the shot.

But Chatham-Kent health care officials say vaccine hesitancy doesn’t appear to be a problem in Chatham-Kent yet, with the initial group of eligible older residents vying to get the shot as soon as possible.

Chatham-Kent Public Health Epidemiologist Laura Zettler says the mass vaccination centre in Chatham is doing a brisk business. It had to shut down the weekend of March 6 and 7, because it ran out of its supply.

“People do want this vaccine and we’re seeing that,” Zettler says. “Vaccine hesitancy is not too much of an issue right now.”

According to a telephone survey conducted by the CKPH last fall in conjunction with Ipsos, more than half of local residents said they were “definitely or probably” going to get the shot, 29 per cent said they were uncertain, and 17 per cent said they would “definitely not, or probably not” take the vaccine.

The data indicated people aged 65 years and older were more inclined to want the shot.

The survey found younger people in the 18 to 34 year category were the largest group that said they would not, or probably not, take the vaccine.

Those who were most hesitant were women aged 18 to 64.

The biggest concerns surrounding vaccine hesitancy, Zettler says how quickly it was developed and possible side effects.

But it’s not a hard ‘no’ for everyone the hesitant group, Zettler says, as many people are in ‘wait and see’ mode.

“They are not refusing,” she says. “They’re just saying ‘not right now.’

“Some people just don’t want to be first and want to wait until they are more comfortable,” she adds.

Zettler hopes those sceptical of taking the shot will seek out solid scientific details about the topic, rather than relying on what can be found floating around the Internet.

“There is some very misguided information out there,” Zettler says.

As a result public health units and all levels of government continue carrying the message about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine to the public.

Getting the vaccine remains completely voluntary, Zettler says.

“It’s not mandatory.”

Zettler says the development of vaccines marks the single greatest advancement of science is protecting people from disease.

Pam Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Herald