Developing a COVID‑19 Vaccination Strategy that Addresses the Needs of People Who Use Drugs in Canada
Background: People Who Use Drugs (PWUD) have intersecting health and social vulnerabilities that elevate their risk for COVID‑19 infection, complications and mortality. It is therefore critical that PWUD are vaccinated to reduce their risks. However, research has suggested that vaccine acceptability ratings are lower than the general population (Iverson et al., 2021) with safety concerns being the most common reason for vaccine hesitancy (Dietze et al., 2021). Objectives: The purpose of this study is to: (1) identify drivers of vaccine hesitancy and approaches to improve vaccine confidence and; (2) to develop national tailored knowledge mobilization and translation products that are for and by PWUD to promote vaccination based on the findings from Objective 1. We will work closely with PWUD and service providers who work with this population to develop these materials. Methods: The study will recruit 100 participants from an existing national sample of PWUD who previously participated in telephone/video interviews about the impact of COVID‑19 in May-June 2020. Semi-structured interviews will be used to identify barriers to receiving vaccinations and ways to address barriers. An advisory committee of PWUD, service providers working with PWUD, and the research team will use responses from the interviews to co-create a multi-pronged approach to address vaccine hesitancy among PWUD. The strategy will include the following components: (1) Developing and disseminating vaccine information resources for PWUD; and (2) Providing training tools to service providers working with PWUD to improve conversations about vaccinations.