Public health officials in Nova Scotia are looking at new strategies to convince more young adults to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The latest statistics, released last Tuesday, show 58 per cent of 20 to 24 year olds have received their first shot.
"Fifty-eight per cent is quite a big difference from 75 per cent, which is where we want the population to be immunized," said Colette Weare, a nurse with the Nova Scotia Health Authority who is part of the team leading the COVID-19 vaccination clinics.
While the 20 to 24 age group was among the last to have access to the vaccine, the vaccination rate is eight per cent less than 12 to 14 year olds, who had access to their shot at the same time.
"It's definitely of a concern because these are probably the most socialable of our population," Weare said. "It's really important that they go out an get immunized."
Province targeting large employers
At the provincial briefing on Tuesday, Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, also addressed the lower turnout. He said his office is looking at ways to target 18- to 30-year-old men who live outside Halifax Regional Municipality.
"One of the things we're going to be doing is going to start to be working with large employers such as Michelin around immunizing in the workplace," he said of their future plans.
Michelin, he said, is primarily staffed by that age group.
"By focusing on them in the workplaces, it's setting an example in their communities," said Strang.
Strang was quick to point out that while there's room for improvement, Nova Scotia's vaccination rates for all ages are still higher than most provinces.
Support available at clinics
Weare, meanwhile, is offering tips for those who are scared of needles. She typically works at vaccination clinics in schools and says nervousness is quite common.
She said people arriving at clinics can speak to a security guard or employee at the door. That way they'll be moved to the front of the line, so they're not building up their anxiety while waiting. They can also ask to be taken to a private room.
Weare said if someone is feeling faint, the clinics can offer them a place to lie down while they receive their shot.
"Each clinic has their way of offering support, and there are provincial discussions right now to see what we can do as a collective."
Weare also recommends that those who are nervous take some deep breaths, or focus on all the activities that will resume once the pandemic is over.
"We want vaccines in arms and we want people to feel comfortable and safe," she said.
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