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 say getting a vaccine should be mandatory

OTTAWA — 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?”

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.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 14, 2020.

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

Rylee Trippel was last seen Friday. (Photo contributed by RCMP)
Red Deer RCMP looking for missing teen

Police are looking for a teen who was last seen in the… Continue reading

The Red Deer Outreach Centre’s Adopt a Family program raised $60,000 in 2020. (Photo courtesy Red Deer Outreach Centre’s Facebook)
Red Deer Outreach Centre’s Adopt a Family program raised $60K in 2020

The executive director of the Red Deer Outreach Centre says she is… Continue reading

The Red Deer and District Community Foundation needs to sell more tickets to host a raffle that will benefit the Women and Girls Endowment Fund.
Red Deer & District Community Foundation grants $167K to local women’s initiatives

Initiatives supporting women, girls, Two-Spirit and gender-diverse individuals will receive a combined… Continue reading

City of Red Deer says its roundabouts have sharply reduced the number of injury collisions at a pair of busy intersections. Alberta Transportation wants to incorporate five roundabouts into plans to twin Highway 11 from Sylvan Lake to Rocky Mountain House. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Highway 11 roundabouts will increase safety based on Red Deer’s experience

Injury collisions sharply reduced at roundabout intersections in city

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
One new COVID-19 death in Red Deer, Alberta under 10,000 active cases

Alberta reported an additional 643 COVID-19 cases Friday. The province now has… Continue reading

Former Alberta Premier Rachel Notley shakes hands with Joel Ward, former Red Deer College President and CEO, as Notley announces that the college is on the path to grant degrees. Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan says university status is not a necessary condition for offering degrees. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Future of Red Deer University increasingly uncertain

MLA’s college update says RDC more like SAIT and NAIT than a university

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole defends decision to back, then oust, Sloan

OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says he was once willing to… Continue reading

Quebec Premier Francois Legault pauses as he speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021 at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
Non-essential travel ban would violate Constitution but courts might allow it: expert

MONTREAL — Fear that Quebecers will catch a new variant of COVID-19… Continue reading

A woman walks outside the Roberta Place Long Term Care home in Barrie, Ont. on Monday, January 18, 2021. The devastating toll of COVID-19 on long-term care residents in Canada has underscored the need for increased public funding for home care, advocates say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
COVID-19 deaths in long-term care reveal need for home supports: advocates

VANCOUVER — The devastating toll of COVID-19 on long-term care residents in… Continue reading

A Chinese flag is illuminated by sunshine in the Hall of Honour on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Thursday, September 22, 2016. China is threatening retaliation against Canada after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned a new security law giving Beijing more control over Hong Kong.. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Diplomats contact Canadian held for over 2 years in China

BEIJING — Canadian officials have met online with former diplomat Michael Kovrig,… Continue reading

Marc Gold (centre) stands with senators André Pratte (left) and Peter Harder before being sworn in during a ceremony in the Senate on Parliament Hill, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Senator urges study of vexing barriers to using secret information in court cases

OTTAWA — A Senate committee should examine the hurdles that make it… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Winnipeg ticket holder wins Friday night’s $60 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — A ticket holder from Winnipeg won Friday night’s whopping $60… Continue reading

A readers suggests using a hairdryer to open a tight jar lid. (Photo by The Associated Press)
Hints from Heloise: The handy hairdryer hint

Dear Heloise: Whenever you have trouble opening a tight jar lid, set… Continue reading

Professional-quality tools don’t just last longer, they’re also more comfortable and better balanced. This drill and impact driver are perfectly balanced on the triggers, which is ideal. (Photo by Steve Maxwell)
Houseworks: In praise of professional-grade tools

When I was 10 years old, my dad began renovating our kitchen,… Continue reading

Most Read