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

Just Posted

Vetch cover crop beginning to flower. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Vetch and crimson clover to the rescue of soil fertility

I add dry organic fertilizer as plants use up what is in the soil.

Sarah Simpson
Sarah Simpson column: A shift in perspective can sometimes change everything

Have you even been forced to wake up at 5:30 on a Saturday

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

North Cowichan’s committee of the whole have rejected staff’s recommendation to limit the use of fireworks to Halloween. (File photo)
North Cowichan rejects limiting fireworks to Halloween

Municipality decides staff recommendation would be unpopular

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

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

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

New research suggests wolves can be steered away from the endangered caribou herds they prey on by making the man-made trails they use to hunt harder to move along. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Culling cutlines, not B.C. wolves, key to preserving caribou herds: researcher

The government has turned to killing hundreds of wolves in an effort to keep caribou around

Gary Abbott (left) and Louis De Jaeger were two of the organizers for the 2014 Spirit of the People Powwow in Chilliwack. Monday, June 21, 2021 is Indigenous Peoples Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 20 to 26

Indigenous Peoples Day, Take Your Dog to Work Day, Onion Rings Day all coming up this week

Gwen Spencer Hethey with her uncle and mentor Major Frederick Richardson. (Courtesy of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame)
‘She was a killer’: The B.C. woman who pioneered female sharpshooting

Gwen Spencer Hethey made military men ‘look like turkeys’ says her son

Most Read