Examining Drivers of Vaccine Hesitancy and Approaches to Improve Vaccine Confidence in Canada

Parsons Leigh, Jeanna J | $251,232

Nova Scotia Dalhousie University 2021 CIHR Operating Grant

The COVID‑19 pandemic has resulted in over 138 million infections globally. Extensive efforts have been made to keep the public accurately informed of evolving information and public health recommendations. However, variable levels of public trust in both non-pharmaceutical (e.g. masking, hand washing) and pharmaceutical (e.g. vaccination) public health recommendations have been identified. Health Canada has approved several vaccines for COVID-19, and health officials estimate that vaccination in 70-80 percent of the population is required for community immunity (i.e., when most of a population is immune to an infectious disease, providing indirect protection) to be achieved. Understanding the underlying reasons why Canadians are vaccine hesitant within the general public and healthcare workforce is crucial to developing effective approaches to improve levels of vaccine confidence in Canada. In response to this challenge, we propose to co-design, with members of the public, a suite of targeted population level solutions to support public confidence in vaccination for COVID-19. We will achieve this through three overlapping phases of work: Phase I National Survey: design and administration of survey to a representative sample of Canadians and healthcare workers to examine underlying drivers of vaccine hesitancy and confidence, strategies for effective communication of vaccination information, and identification of socio-demographic variations. Phase II: Follow up focus groups within key sub-populations (e.g. sex, age, ethnicity etc.) based on survey findings to develop a richer understanding of contextual factors, and Phase III: Design evidence informed interventions to improve levels of public trust and influence increased rates of vaccination. Interventions will be funnelled into an existing CIHR funded national COVID‑19 awareness campaign that is currently being led by our team.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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