As vaccine rollout begins, Albertans among the most reluctant to receive the injection


Albertans tired of the pandemic will have something to look forward to in 2021. A chance to roll up their sleeves for an injection of the vaccine that is expected to protect them from a global health pandemic that has infected nearly 71 million people worldwide and killed an estimated 1.6 million people.
Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health is promising a campaign to help convince Albertans of the benefits of the vaccine, which will be injected into the arms of nearly 2,000 Albertans starting Wednesday.

Dr Deena Hinshaw and Prime Minister Jason Kenney have said the vaccine won’t be mandatory, but that doesn’t mean an employer or private service provider can’t make it a requirement for their staff and clients.

Some frontline healthcare workers and residents of long-term care homes will be among the first to receive their two doses. The government has said it will take months for the vaccine to reach everyone who wants a vaccine, but not everyone wants it.

In Alberta, the number of so-called vaccine reluctance is among the highest in the country, according to a survey conducted earlier this month by Ipsos / Radio-Canada.

Albertans and Quebeckers are 62% least likely to get vaccinated, according to the survey. However, the national average was only slightly higher, at 64%.

Albertans and British Columbians were the most likely to express concern about side effects or risks associated with the vaccine.

Albertans led the country to 34% who believe COVID-19 can be beaten without a vaccine.

One in five Albertans said they were generally opposed to vaccination, whether against COVID-19 or other diseases.

The Angus Reid Institute, another polling firm, said the reason for some hesitation about vaccines was related to concerns about safety – the short and long-term side effects of a developed biological agent. in less than a year. Vaccines can sometimes take up to 10 years to develop, test, test, and receive regulatory approval from public health agencies.

Alberta countryside

Premier Jason Kenney has said no one would be forced to get vaccinated in Alberta, calling a mandatory vaccination program “ridiculous.”

“We’re not going to tie people up to force them to get the vaccine,” Kenney said.

But the Prime Minister said his government would recommend people get it.

“We will encourage people to use it, because the more people who use it, the better off we will all be. ”

The number of COVID-19 cases in Alberta hit a one-day high on Monday, December 14, 2020 with 1,887 new infections. Premier Jason Kenney and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr Deena Hinshaw are urging Albetans to get vaccinated to slow the spread of the disease. (Jason Franson / The Canadian Press)

The number of infections and deaths in Alberta has increased dramatically in the past month. A one-day record for new infections was set on Monday with 1,887 positive test results. The death toll has reached 733, an increase of more than 100 in one week.

Dr Hinshaw repeated comments on the effectiveness of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine which is being distributed in Alberta this week, saying that of the tens of thousands of people who have already received the vaccine around the world, there has been no reported events. ”

It is not clear exactly how the government will encourage people to get vaccinated. Requests for information from the government and health officials regarding a vaccination campaign have not been answered.

Employers, airlines, massage therapists

If the government encourages Albertans to get vaccinated, how far can employers go? What about airlines, grocery stores, and hair salons? Will we have to prove if we have been vaccinated? And if not, does that mean that our job is in danger or that we would be prohibited from booking a massage or a flight?

University of Calgary Associate Professor of Law and Cumming School of Medicine Says Businesses “Certainly Can” Place Conditions on Service Provision, But They Are Bound by Rights Laws of the person.

“So, for example, if you can’t get the vaccine for medical reasons, WestJet can’t deny you the opportunity to fly on their planes without providing you with reasonable accommodation,” said Lorian Hardcastle.

Westjet and Air Canada say it’s too early to say what the vaccination requirements for air travelers might look like. (Darryl Dyck / Canadian Press)

She said that could include proof of a negative COVID-19 test result 24 hours before takeoff.

“So there is this demand, not only with employers, and not only in the public sector to take into account human rights, but also with private service providers. ”

In a statement to the CBC, Westjet and Air Canada said it was too early to comment on possible travel requirements for vaccines.

“It is premature to comment on how they will be used or required, as it will largely be up to country governments to make decisions on vaccination requirements and protocols, including surrounding travel,” one reads in one. Air Canada press release.

Westjet added; “There are many unknowns regarding the deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine in Canada and it is too early to speculate on the impact on our industry.

What about employers?

Health workers in some parts of the country are already required to vaccinate or wear a mask to prevent the spread of seasonal flu in hospitals and long-term care facilities.

Employers could impose a similar policy for the COVID-19 vaccine. They should make special accommodations for employees who might seek an exemption under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but Hardcastle says there would only be a few options.

“Your ability to challenge your employers is pretty limited,” she says, especially in a healthcare setting.

Hardcastle says employers might be reluctant to pursue such a policy since the vaccine is new.

Lorian Hardcastle is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law and the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary. She says employers and private service providers would likely be successful in imposing mandatory vaccination requirements, provided human rights laws are followed. (Zoom)

“Employees could further push back the demand for something new,” she said.

But she points out that the vaccine has already been tested on people and approved by Health Canada.

She says that because of this, the window for making an argument becomes quite narrow. She says a pregnant woman might be more successful in arguing against a mandatory vaccine because the vaccines have not been tested on pregnant women.

The Alberta Human Rights Commission issued statements earlier this year regarding COVID-19 and individual rights regarding requirements for mandatory masks and how, for example, a person with a disability or a problem with health, such as asthma, could be exempt from wearing a mask.

Vaccine safety campaign

Healthcare providers and researchers say one of the biggest challenges of the pandemic has been tackling what’s known as the infodemic – the spread of false information and conspiracy theories around COVID – 19.

Dr Ilan Schwartz describes it as a “raging epidemic of disinformation.”

“We have come to a point where expertise and science are made available to people with opinions on Facebook,” said Dr. Schwartz, infectious disease physician and assistant professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases of the University of Alberta.

This vaccine has been developed at a lightning pace, but there has been no corner cut.– Dr Ilan Schwartz, specialist in infectious diseases

He says physicians need to educate their patients and also the community that this is something that is safe, effective and recommended.

He says that although the vaccine appears to have been sped up, it is safe.

“This vaccine has been developed at a lightning pace, but there hasn’t been a corner cut,” he said.

Dr. Ilan Schwartz is Assistant Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Alberta. He says medical professionals must fight an “infodemic” of disinformation and conspiracy theories around COVID-19 when examining the disease and the newly approved vaccine. (Zoom)

“It is important that we, you know, earn and maintain the trust of the public. And so we want to be able to give them all the information they need to make an informed and safe decision. ”

Some Canadians may need less conviction.

An Angus Reid Institute poll released Monday indicates that there has been a “notable increase” in the number of Canadians who say they are ready to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The number rose from 40% a month ago to 48% among those polled last week.

In Alberta, the number rose from 32% to 48%, one of the largest increases in the country. But the province recorded the highest number of Canadians who said they did not want to be vaccinated at 27%.

The online survey of 1,603 Canadians was completed from December 8 to 11. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Bryan Labby is a corporate reporter for CBC Calgary. If you have a great idea for an article or tip, you can attach it to [email protected] or on Twitter at @CBCBryan.


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