Canada’s COVID‑19 Vaccine Confidence in Indigenous Populations: A Mixed Method Study

Pakhale, Smita | $199,900

Ontario Ottawa Hospital Research Institute 2021 CIHR Operating Grant

Vaccines are important public health invention to curb many lethal diseases like smallpox. Vaccines are not always accepted by the people and there is a lot of hesitancy. People are misinformed on vaccine related research and hence reluctant to receive vaccines. Such vaccine hesitancy is found to be more common in the Canadian Indigenous populations than in the non-Indigenous populations. Thus, we are proposing an in-depth learning of the reasons of vaccine hesitancy in the First Nations (FN), Metis, and Inuit people. We are building this project on the ongoing CIHR-funded COVID Impact project at the Bridge Engagement Center, a community-based research center in Ottawa, Canada. Thus far, the COVID Impact project has successfully recruited 397 participants, collected detailed data around all objectives via a survey administered by peers with lived experience. A preliminary analysis of the COVID Impact project (N=397; Indigenous=138 (FN=46, Inuit=61, Metis=9, Mixed=10 and Did not mention any specific tribe=12)) demonstrated significantly more vaccine hesitancy in the FN and Inuit participants. The proposed study will follow a community based participatory action research approach, designed, and operationalized in previous Bridge studies. We will conduct 3 peer-led Focus Groups (1 each with FN, Metis, and Inuit) and 25-30 semi-structured interviews to learn vaccine hesitancy in the Indigenous populations. The short-term outcome of the study will benefit Indigenous populations, as their unique needs and challenges will be identified to inform Ottawa specific COVID‑19 vaccine insecurities and strategies for implementing public health responses to strengthen vaccine confidence. We will co-create Grade-6 reading level material around vaccine hesitancy, barriers, and facilitators of vaccine confidence, specific for Indigenous populations. In the long-term, findings from this project will help guide vaccine strategies for Indigenous communities with a people first approach.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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