A subject receives a shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine by Moderna for COVID-19 at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle, March 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Ted S. Warren

A subject receives a shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine by Moderna for COVID-19 at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle, March 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Ted S. Warren

Canadians divided over mandatory COVID-19 vaccines, priority inoculations

Only 39 per cent of respondents said getting a vaccine should be mandatory

Canadians appear to be turning against mandatory COVID-19 inoculations whenever a vaccine becomes available, with a new poll suggesting the number of people opposed to the idea is growing.

The poll by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies is the latest to take the public’s temperature during the COVID-19 pandemic, and comes as governments and scientists around the world are scrambling to find a vaccine.

The federal government has also inked a number of agreements with pharmaceutical companies to purchase millions of doses of their vaccine candidates if they prove safe and effective, over fears of a global rush for the drugs.

While the majority of respondents in earlier polls had said they were in favour of the government’s requiring people get inoculated once a vaccine is discovered, the new poll found that was no longer the case.

Only 39 per cent of respondents said getting a vaccine should be mandatory, a decline of 18 percentage points from a similar poll conducted in July and more than 20 points lower than in May.

Fifty-four per cent of respondents instead said a vaccine should be voluntary, an 11 percentage-point increase from July and 15 since May. Six per cent of respondents said they did not know.

The online poll was conducted Oct. 9 to 11 and surveyed 1,539 adult Canadians. It cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.

Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque was puzzled by the change, particularly since the percentage of respondents who said they would get a free vaccine as soon as it becomes available remains relatively high.

Sixty-three per cent said they would take up such an offer, seven points lower than in July. Another 17 per cent said they would not, which was up three points, while 20 per cent did not know.

“So some people who said they would get it would not make it mandatory,” Bourque said. “In other words, it should be like any other flu vaccine, which is voluntary.”

The poll does not provide an explanation for the decline in support for mandatory vaccinations, but a Statistics Canada survey in August found some Canadians are worried about the safety and possible side effects of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“A lot of the media attention has been around whether it will be reliable, is it coming out too early?” Bourque said. “But if they were worried it’s not safe and should not be made mandatory, why do two out of three Canadians say they’ll get it?”

READ MORE: Nearly half of parents are willing to accept ‘less rigorous’ testing of COVID vaccine: UBC

The federal government and public-health officials have insisted that while they have cut red tape to speed approval of a new COVID-19 vaccine, they will not cut corners when it comes to safety requirements.

The poll showed even sharper division over whether Canadians should be able to pay to get a vaccine faster, with 37 per cent agreeing with the idea, 50 per cent opposing and 13 per cent unsure either way.

That comes at a time when Health Canada has said it is investigating reports some private clinics are offering COVID-19 tests for a fee for people who don’t want to wait for appointments with local health authorities.

It also comes as only 59 per cent of respondents said they would probably get a free flu vaccine this year despite public-health authorities encouraging everyone to do so. Thirty-six per cent said they did probably would not get inoculated for the flu.

Despite any misgivings about a COVID-19 vaccine, there was fairly broad support for making inoculations available to certain priority groups such as health-care workers, seniors and workers in long-term care facilities whenever they become available.

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

Sarah Simpson
Sarah Simpson Column: Books open up a world of discovery

We try to eat dinner as a family every night. It happens… Continue reading

The Cowichan Tribes’ gymnasium at 5574 River Road is now operating as an extreme weather shelter. (Submitted photo)
New extreme weather shelter opens on River Road in Duncan

New facility should relieve some pressure on Warmland House

Dementia doesn’t just affect the person living with a diagnosis; it affects caregivers, family, friends and their community. (Submitted)
January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

“Raise your voice: Dementia, long-term care and COVID-19” on Jan. 27

The firefighters at the Mesachie Lake fire hall could soon be working out of a new retrofitted building if the Cowichan V alley Regional District is successful with its application for a $350,000 federal grant to fund the project. (File photo)
Major retrofit planned for Mesachie Lake fire hall

CVRD applies for $350,000 federal grant

Dog owners, from left, Marlyn Briggs with Nayla, Marjory Sutherland with Effie and Mick, and Christina Godbolt with Conon walk their pets frequently at the Chemainus Ball Park but are growing increasingly concerned about drugs being found discarded in the area. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Puppy requires emergency treatment 3 times after ingesting drugs from Chemainus parks

Dog owners walking in Chemainus parks urged to take caution

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 is International Lego Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 24 to 30

Lego Day, Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day and Puzzle Day are all coming up this week

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Terry Keogh, an RDN Transit driver, used his paramedic skills the morning of Jan. 22 after coming across an unconscious woman along his route in downtown Nanaimo. (RDN Transit photo)
Nanaimo transit driver stops his bus and helps get overdosing woman breathing again

Former EMT from Ireland performed CPR on a woman in downtown Nanaimo on Friday

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

Black Press file photo
Investigation at remote burned-out Vancouver Island cabin reveals human remains

Identity of victim not released, believed to be the owner of an SUV vehicle found parked nearby

Angela Waldick is the new team photographer for the Nanaimo NightOwls. (Nanaimo NightOwls photo)
Half-blind photographer will help new Island baseball team look picture-perfect

Nanaimo NightOwls say legally blind team photographer is making history

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

Most Read