Vaccine hesitancy could affect Manitoba achieving herd immunity, survey says

About a quarter of Manitobans are feeling vaccine hesitancy, according to a Probe Research poll for Doctors Manitoba, which also shows that one in 10 Manitobans don’t plan on getting the shot at all.

Those least likely to get it, according to the poll, are rural Manitobans, men, and those with lower levels of education — mostly citing concerns about side effects and the belief that the vaccine was rushed.

That being said, 80 per cent of the Manitobans surveyed said they believe the vaccines are safe — but more than 80 per cent feel the province’s roll-out strategy is taking too long.

The survey, which gathered the opinions of 1,000 Manitobans and 1,022 Manitoba physicians, indicated that while most doctors — 95 per cent — have already been vaccinated, a significant number (68 per cent) of them remain concerned that the province won’t achieve herd immunity due to vaccine hesitancy.

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Doctors Manitoba president Dr. Cory Baillie told 680 CJOB that the province needs a sizable portion of its population to get the shot in order for herd immunity to be achieved.

“The numbers that experts suggest is in the ballpark of 70-75 per cent, but that includes the entire population — including children and youth, who at this time aren’t eligible to be vaccinated,” he said.

“Physicians are concerned about vaccine hesitancy. There’s a number of issues that Manitobans have. This is a new condition, they’re new vaccines. Some are concerned about possible side affects, some are concerned that they feel vaccines were rushed… some just don’t think that COVID-19 is a health risk to them.”

Baillie said while Manitobans might be concerned after hearing reports of blood clots and other side effects with certain vaccines, those issues are incredibly rare, and the vast majority of people receiving the vaccine don’t experience any ill effects.

“Those (side effects) are exceedingly, exceedingly rare,” he said. “The benefits of vaccine far outweigh any risk.

“Vaccines are a way to get out of the pandemic. It protects yourself, it protects your friend and loved ones. Manitobans should be vaccinated as soon as they’re eligible. All the vaccines are safe.”

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