Doctors say education needed as one-in-five Albertans plan to shun vaccine

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An average 38 per cent of Canadians indicated they were “not very afraid” or “not afraid at all.”

Alberta and Quebec, however, totalled 48 per cent and 47 per cent, respectively.

Dr. Sajjad Fazel, a postdoctoral associate at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine, said there are misconceptions related to the side-effects and safety of COVID-19 vaccines — despite undergoing rigorous testing and approval by Health Canada.

There are also conspiracy theories swirling about the intent of vaccines.

While none of the above should cause concern, Fazel said people shouldn’t “dismiss fears.”

“We need to be empathetic, listen and understand what their exact fear is, then answer it with education from trusted sources,” he said, adding there are a host of reasons people are unsure about getting vaccinated.

“Some minority communities might be hesitant because of the racialized and systemic issues that have happened in the past, where people of colour have not been treated fairly in the healthcare system,” Fazel explained.

He said the Government of Alberta should expand their efforts to educate residents on the importance of being vaccinated, with information aimed at dispelling fears and misconceptions.

Townhalls with medical experts and engagement with trusted community partners in racialized communities could also help to increase trust in COVID-19 immunizations, said Fazel.

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Albertans ‘dissatisfied’ with province’s COVID-19 measures

Compared to any other province in the country, Albertans are the least satisfied with their provincial government’s actions to fight COVID-19. A whopping 69 per cent of Alberta respondents indicated they are “dissatisfied” compared to the national average of 39 per cent, according to the poll.

Support for Premier Jason Kenney and his government’s COVID-19 pandemic response decreased from 74 per cent in March last year to 28 per cent this January. This is the biggest dip in satisfaction across Canada.

Meanwhile, 57 per cent of Albertans indicated they are “satisfied” with the federal government’s response — trending just below the national average, the data shows.

alsmith@postmedia.com

Twitter: @alanna_smithh

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