What can be done about the low COVID-19 vaccination rate in Alberta? Experts intervene – .

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Nearly 68% of eligible Albertans – or 57.7% of all Albertans – were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 on Sunday, but experts say vaccine coverage must be higher as the Delta variant sweeps the province.

There are a range of ideas for increasing rates, from vaccine passports and fighting misinformation to family physicians’ relationships with patients.

READ MORE: Vaccination hesitation: What is preventing some Albertans from getting vaccinated against COVID-19?

Forty-eight percent of eligible residents of the High Prairie community have at least one dose of the vaccine, according to Alberta Health; it is one of the lowest rates in the province.

High Prairie Mayor Brian Panasiuk has said he wishes that number was higher, but recognizes that there are people who are holding back.

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“There are people who don’t want to be vaccinated.

“They are not sure they are doing it. They don’t know if it’s safe, ”he said.

READ MORE: How to reach the vaccine hesitant: What experts and reluctant Canadians are saying

The vaccines are available at pharmacies, doctor’s offices and AHS clinics, and Panasiuk said he was unsure what else the province could do to increase the rate, but notes that a vaccine passport could push those who hesitate to act.

“People would resist the idea and don’t think it’s fair, but only in terms of trying to increase the numbers, making it a requirement that could definitely increase the numbers,” he said.

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University of Alberta sociologist Amy Kaler said messages of responsibility and good choices no longer work.

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“There is a limit to the effectiveness of telling people over and over again, ‘We encourage you to get vaccinated,’” she said.

“If people really took this to heart in large numbers and did exactly what they are encouraged to do, we wouldn’t be in a fourth wave. “

Kaler said there is no hope of persuading anti-vaccines and that there is a range of unvaccinated people, such as those concerned about side effects and people with difficulty accessing the vaccine.

“And then you have people who just don’t have a sense of urgency around immunization, who maybe just didn’t get it – this is the group where I think the immunization mandates would work, ”she said.

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Kaler is convinced that passports or vaccination warrants could be the key to enticing the hesitant.

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“Anyone who owns a smartphone has already transmitted a lot more of their personal data than a small screenshot of an AHS recording,” she said.

“People have the right to consume alcohol, cannabis as much as they want. But you are not allowed to get behind the wheel of a car and drive around because you put other people in danger, and the same is true with vaccination.

“You have the right to remain unvaccinated but if you are going to be on a university campus with 300 other students in an amphitheater, you need a vaccination because if you are not vaccinated in this situation, you put others. people in danger. It’s a pretty basic principle.

READ MORE: Alberta rejects idea of ​​federal vaccine passport being used as proof of COVID-19 vaccination

Kelly Grindrod, professor of pharmacy at the University of Waterloo, said that while vaccination rates were slowing everywhere, Alberta still lags behind the rest of the country.

“We are in the midst of a pandemic with the Delta variant moving so quickly through society. We really need that number as quickly as possible, ”she said.

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Grindrod said disinformation and misinformation is a real obstacle.

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“Even if you show up with a mobile bus, but they don’t trust their vaccine or they don’t trust you, that’s the biggest challenge. “

“What you need to do there is really try in a community to build trust… ask patients to talk to their own family doctor, ask the pharmacist to make sure they are there. ‘offer to all who walk through,’ she said.

READ MORE: Edmonton clinic takes unique approach to encourage COVID-19 vaccines as rates cap

Dr. Cathy Scrimshaw, medical director of the Alberta College of Family Physicians and physician in Pincher Creek, agrees that relationships are key to reaching the diverse group of those hesitant to vaccinate.

“I have to say that as a family doctor, it seems that the one-on-one relationships family doctors have with their patients help allay some of the fears people may have about getting the vaccine.

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Scrimshaw said a recent survey of members showed the greatest concern was low immunization rates, especially in rural communities that already face a shortage of staff or beds.

“How do we intervene directly? What would be effective in addressing that hesitation about the vaccine there?

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“I’m afraid we don’t have some good, solid ideas that are sure to work, but it is certain that this one-on-one relationship that these family physicians in these areas have with their patients… can really help with that education. “

Grindrod is quick to point out that someone who has yet to receive a vaccine should not be ashamed.

“He’s not a bad person… Maybe they don’t trust the information they got, maybe they don’t have someone to talk to who they can trust. who they can get good information from, maybe they have legitimate health concerns and need someone to explain to them why the vaccine is safe based on their condition, ”he said. she declared.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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