By: Lynn Desjardins
ad press about the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 has caused a loss of confidence in it among many Canadians, according to a new public opinion survey. Much of Canada is in the throes of a third wave of the pandemic with wider circulation of variants which are more easily transmitted and, in some cases, more lethal.
Now, the percentage of respondents who say they would get vaccinated as soon as possible is at its highest rate of 69 per cent. This includes people awaiting their first shot and those in line for their second. However, 23 per cent of those who have not yet been vaccinated said they would not accept the AstraZeneca shot if it were offered to them. That brand currently makes up about 20 per cent of Canada’s vaccine stockpile. The level of discomfort is higher among women over the age of 34. Two-in-five say they are “extremely uncomfortable” with the idea of getting an AstraZeneca shot.
Public opinion has declined over changing reports of this brand’s efficacy and even more so after reports linked it to rare cases of blood clots. Although there is no proof of a causal relationship, Canadian health officials recommend AstraZeneca not be administered to those under the age of 55 out of an abundance of caution. They however, sought to reassure the public the vaccine is safe and offers excellent protection against severe disease, hospitalization and death.
Most prefer manufacturer’s schedules
Canadian health authorities have recommended the time between doses of the vaccine be extended beyond what manufacturers recommend to ensure that the most people possible get a first shot. At least 62 per cent of respondents would prefer authorities that they stick with the manufacturers’ recommendations.
About 18 per cent of Canadians have received at least one shot and 87 per cent of them had a very good experience.
The survey also revealed skepticism about the number of people who have been infected with COVID-19. One-in-five people think the government has been inflating the figures while only 32 per cent think the official data are correct.
While three per cent of respondents had a test that confirmed they had the disease, another 12 per cent think they have had it and eight per cent would not rule it out.
Confidence in the federal government’s procurement and distribution of vaccines has improved slightly. Two-in-five says they are confident in how that has been managed while 50 per cent disagree.
Vaccine deliveries are expected to increase in the coming weeks. The governing Liberals will watch public opinion closely as all signs suggest they would like to hold a federal election soon in a bid to win a majority. They currently have a minority of seats in the House of Commons and rule with the support of other parties.
The survey was conducted by the Angus Reid Institute.