Gender gap: More Sask. women getting vaccinated against COVID-19 than men

·3 min read
Gender gap: More Sask. women getting vaccinated against COVID-19 than men
Women are getting vaccinated at a higher rate than men in Saskatchewan.  (Kate Dubinski/CBC - image credit)
Women are getting vaccinated at a higher rate than men in Saskatchewan. (Kate Dubinski/CBC - image credit)

Margo Campbell was ready for the day her age group was eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

"I was in the car lining up for my vaccine the day I was allowed," the Regina school teacher said on Wednesday.

Campbell said it's a good thing that she got vaccinated. More than a week after she got her first dose, every member of her home would test positive for COVID-19.

"It spread like wildfire because we had the variant. It spread like wildfire to every member of my family and I fully believe that without the vaccine, we would have far greater medical issues," Campbell said.

"So with the vaccine, we had the sniffles and a little cough."

The vaccine gender gap

Campbell is just one of hundreds of thousands of women in Saskatchewan who chose to get vaccinated.

As more people get their first dose in the province a new pattern has emerged. Women are being vaccinated at a higher rate than men.

As of May 8, 261,352 women in the province have received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared to 219,668 men, according to federal vaccination data.

That's an eight percentage point gap between men and women. The divide increases in some age groups when you break the data down.

While 60 to 69 year olds are only separated by a few percentage points, that gap increases to a full 18 per cent when examining 30 to 39 year olds.

The gender gap isn't just a problem unique to Saskatchewan. It's a pattern that has played out across in every province and territory in Canada except for the Northwest Territories.

'A bit of weakness'

For Kyle Anderson, a microbiologist at the University of Saskatchewan, the divide isn't shocking.

"There's a really big body of health evidence or health-care studies saying that men are more likely to avoid preventative medical appointments to get even just regular flu vaccination," he told CBC Saskatchewan's Afternoon Edition.

"There's generally about a 10 per cent gap between women and men for seasonal flu and preventative things [like] going to the doctor," he said.

Anderson theorized that men might be concerned about, "showing a bit of weakness or showing a little bit of vulnerability."

Jillian Bell is another woman who chose to get vaccinated as quickly as possible.

Bell doesn't like getting sick and gets her flu vaccine every year.

With an elderly father who sometimes needs help, she said it was an easy choice.

"It not only benefits me and my immediate family, but it benefits so many other people in the community when you can start building that immunity and have at least some assurance that you are less likely to spread a disease that causes a lot of problems for people," she said.

There are multiple factors contributing to the gender gap in vaccinations.

Demographics and the way that Saskatchewan and the rest of Canada have chosen to deploy vaccines plays at least a part.

Vaccinations were distributed by age, with the oldest residents being the first to receive doses. Women make up a large proportion of older residents in Saskatchewan.

Women also dominate the professions that were prioritized in the pilot and first phase of Saskatchewan's vaccine delivery program, such as health-care workers, long-term care and personal care home residents.

Anderson said breaching the gender gap isn't going to be easy.

He said politicians and policy makers must reframe the discussion to make it clear getting vaccinated isn't a sign of weakness or vulnerability.

"It's actually a show of strength to try and protect people and look after yourself. [If we shift the conversation] we might be able to sort of catch up these men so that we can get the same rate as women," he said.