Hesitant Albertans will warm to vaccinations, says U of A professor
EDMONTON -- Despite being the most vaccine-hesitant province in Canada, at least one health expert expects more Albertans will want to be vaccinated as rollouts happen around the globe.
“The optimistic side of me believes that once this starts to roll out, once people see the efficacy, that more and more Albertans are going to get vaccinated,” said Tim Caulfield, a professor of health law and science policy at the University of Alberta.
Caulfield is concerned too few Albertans will get the vaccine because of misinformation he said is circulated by the anti-vaccine community.
“We have to listen to their concerns and we have to respond respectfully but I am worried about that.”
A November Angus Reid poll found about one-in-four Albertans (25 per cent) would not be willing to get a coronavirus vaccination.
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“Vaccines only work if people get them, so that’s the next big hurdle,” said Caulfield, who emphasized that communication and distribution would be the two biggest hurdles for Alberta moving forward.
On Wednesday, the provincial government announced details of its three-phase vaccine rollout, including the creation of a COVID-19 vaccine task force.
The announcement was coupled with a reminder from Premier Jason Kenney that the COVID-19 vaccine would not be mandatory in Alberta, despite no prior suggestions it would be. In fact, the government is working to amend the Public Health Act to remove the power of mandatory inoculation.
In Phase 1, the most at-risk Albertans will be eligible to receive a vaccine as early as Jan. 4, along with healthcare workers and seniors and staff in long-term care homes. The province expects to have enough doses to immunize up to 435,000 Albertans by March 2021.
Phase 2 will begin by April and target “prioritized populations,” according to a government news release, but no specific demographics have been publicly identified. Phase 3 has an estimated start date of fall 2021 and will involve vaccinations for the general public.
“I think the rollout is logical. The people they’re putting at the top of the priority list makes sense,” said Caulfield.
“It will be really interesting to see how they categorize the next individuals that are going to get it and how those priorities are going to unfold.”
Health Canada has not yet approved any vaccines.
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Bill Fortier