Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, prepares a dose of the Moderna vaccine in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. Almost two in three Canadians surveyed recently said they trust COVID-19 vaccines to be both safe and effective. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, prepares a dose of the Moderna vaccine in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. Almost two in three Canadians surveyed recently said they trust COVID-19 vaccines to be both safe and effective. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

New survey on trust suggests most Canadians believe COVID-19 vaccines safe, effective

Canada has approved two vaccines so far, one from Pfizer-BioNTech and a second from Moderna

Almost two in three Canadians surveyed recently said they trust COVID-19 vaccines to be both safe and effective.

Proof Strategies conducts a survey every year to assess how much faith Canadians have in major institutions and authorities.

Bruce MacLellan, Proof’s CEO, says trust in vaccines is not quite strong enough, based on health experts who suggest at least three-quarters of Canadians need to be vaccinated for good herd immunity against COVID-19 to take effect.

“It is concerning,” said MacLellan.

The survey was conducted online with about 1,500 respondents between Jan. 8 and Jan. 20.

The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error as they are not random and therefore are not necessarily representative of the whole population.

Canada has approved two vaccines so far, one from Pfizer-BioNTech and a second from Moderna. Three others are under review; the federal government has bought two more, but neither of those is expected to be considered for approval until the fall.

More than 220,000 Canadians are now fully vaccinated with the two doses the current vaccines require, and almost 930,000 people have received single doses so far.

When the survey was taken, Canada was ramping up vaccinations, with more than 40,000 doses given out most days during that period. In the days since deliveries slowed to a crawl, and faith in the rollout plummeted.

At that time however, 64 per cent of people surveyed said they trusted the vaccines, a number that was relatively constant across the country. Younger people and low-income Canadians expressed less trust in the vaccines.

Eighty-six per cent of those over the age of 75 said they trusted the vaccines, compared with less than 60 per cent for millennials (between 25 and 44 years old) and Generation Z (between 18 and 24 years old.)

Almost seven in 10 people with incomes above $100,000 said they trusted the vaccines, compared to only half of those with low incomes.

The survey also reported that almost two-thirds of respondents trusted the federal and provincial public health doctors they see delivering updates on COVID-19 multiple times a week.

Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam said Feb. 5 that Health Canada currently has data that suggests about 10 per cent of the population is not going to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and there is little that could change their minds. She said another 20 per cent or so don’t currently want to be inoculated but could be persuaded.

Tam said some of the questions people have are relatively easy to answer, including some fear about how quickly the vaccines were developed, or questions about the data on how effective they are.

She noted there have been no serious adverse events after the vaccinations in Canada so far, and the more people who do get the shots safely, the more others may be convinced to follow suit.

“Look at our seniors,” she said. “They’re getting vaccinated. The vaccine has so far been safe, with no safety signals, so I think that’s actually a really good way of boosting vaccine confidence, is seeing other people get vaccinated.”

Tam said people who turn to mainstream media for their information are more likely to trust the vaccines than those who rely more heavily on social media.

READ MORE: 12% of COVID-19 rule breakers in B.C. have paid their fines

The Proof survey also found a year into the pandemic, Canadians’ trust in doctors and scientists appears to have grown. In January 2020, the survey found about 76 per cent of respondents said they trusted doctors and 70 per cent had trust in scientists. In January 2021 that had grown to 81 per cent for doctors and 77 per cent for scientists.

MacLellan said it is noteworthy that a year ago, friends and family were the most trusted sources of information for those surveyed, but this year scientists and doctors have both exceeded them.

Politicians did not fare as well. A year ago 40 per cent of those surveyed said they trusted government, compared to 32 per cent this year. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has seen a steady decline in trust over the five years he has been in office, with 46 per cent indicating trust in him in 2016, compared with 32 per cent this year.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirusvaccines

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

A health care worker prepares to test a Coastal GasLink field worker for COVID-19. (Coastal GasLink photo)
Coastal GasLink begins COVID screening of pipeline workers

Construction is once again ramping up following Northern Health approval of COVID management plan

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Design work continues for planned new hospital

Construction contract still in the works

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Canada set to receive more than 6M COVID-19 vaccine dose than initially expected, by end of March

Beginning late Tuesday, anti-pipeline protesters blocked the intersection of Hastings Street and Clark Drive in Vancouver. (Instagram/Braidedwarriors)
Demonstrators block key access to Vancouver port over jail for pipeline protester

They group is protesting a 90-day jail sentence handed to a fellow anti-pipeline protester

Two Vancouver police officers were struck by a car when the driver learned he was being arrested for allegedly using a fraudulent credit card to pay for food. (Vancouver Police Department)
Driver being arrested for alleged food order fraud rams Vancouver police with car

Two officers are in stable condition, suffering with soft tissue injuries following the incident

A discarded blue surgical mask is shown hanging in a bush in Montreal, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
B.C. RMT suspended for not wearing a mask after confirmed by undercover clients

College of Massage Therapists has 5 open files, said suspension necessary to protect public

Accident rates, injury claims and court costs have driven ICBC into deficit in recent years. (Black Press Media)
Judge rejects taking lawyers out of minor ICBC injury cases

Ruling the latest setback for B.C. NDP’s insurance cost reforms

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Missing woman’s remains recovered after Vancouver Island boat fire

Remains of a 60-year-old woman recovered after Feb. 27 boat fire took her life

Most Read