Now that Health Canada has approved its first round of COVID-19 vaccines, an Ottawa researcher is urging public health authorities to start addressing residents' fears surrounding the shot.
Maxime Le, a researcher at the University of Ottawa, wrote his thesis on anti-vaccination arguments in Canada, and has created a master list of anti-vaccination arguments.
"They question the security and side effects that potential vaccines can produce," he explains. "They also worry about the fact that it's so new, and it was 'rushed' and whatnot."
Le says now is the time to start combating those fears.
"Develop consultations and community engagement plans, and actually listen to the people. Let the people ask questions and then answer them in a transparent and open manner."
Le says there needs to be a communications plan that "responds to the fears and worries and anxieties that people have, because the COVID vaccine is coming. People have questions, but we're just not getting answers."
Historically, Le doesn't think public health leaders have done a good job of explaining the benefits of vaccines. It's not enough to simply tell people that vaccines are good, he adds, Canadians need to be reminded about how good they've got it.
"Historically, vaccines have been doing a pretty good job at keeping us safe. In some parts of the world -- in Afghanistan for example, they still have cases of polio."
Health Canada approved the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, Wednesday, December 9, the first to be given the green light for national use.