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Poll: Overall vaccine trust is up among Canadians, faith in AstraZeneca, J&J lags

A new survey from Proof Strategies suggests it’s not only Canada’s national vaccine advisers who have a “preferred” vaccine.

The survey of 1,500 people taken during the first three days of May suggests overall trust in vaccines is now at 74 per cent, compared to 64 per cent in January.

The increase in vaccine trust occurred in all provinces across the country including an 11 point bump in Ontario.

The trust in vaccines jumps to more than 80 per cent when asked specifically about Pfizer-BioNTech, and it’s almost as high for Moderna. On the flip side, trust falls to under 50 per cent for both Oxford-AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.


Vaccine trust levels among Canadians

  • Pfizer – 83%
  • Moderna – 78%
  • Johnson & Johnson – 49%
  • AstraZeneca – 45%

The poll was taken a week after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) warned Canadians an extremely rare blood clot risk may be a reason for people at low risk of getting COVID-19 to turn down AstraZeneca.

Proof President Bruce MacLellan says weeks of information and warnings that AstraZeneca and J&J are linked to the new and rare blood clotting syndrome have clearly taken a toll.

“It’s very encouraging that trust in vaccines has grown so much in four months, although it is also clear that trust is not shared equally between the four main brands,” said MacLellan. “Public health officials need to manage their words carefully.”

NACI were accused of building confusion and vaccine hesitancy when they recommended that Canadians who aren’t at high risk from COVID-19 may want to wait until a dose of Pfizer or Moderna is available.

NACI called those two vaccine the “preferred” vaccines, leading some medical experts to worry they were grading the shots and Canadians would wonder if that means AstraZeneca is substandard and should therefore be avoided.

Pfizer and Moderna both use mRNA technology and haven’t been linked to any blood clotting cases.

The chair of NACI went on to say people who already got the AstraZeneca vaccine should not feel they made a bad choice.

Dr. Fahad Razak, an internist caring for COVID-19 patients at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, said the reality is most people in Canada who aren’t yet vaccinated — which includes most people under the age of 40 — are going to be offered Pfizer or Moderna.

Razak still believes people who are offered AstraZeneca should take it, noting his wife received it with his full support. With COVID-19 still spreading rapidly in much of Canada, the virus is posing a much bigger risk than the vaccines, he said.

“We have more people at just my hospital (right now) than have developed the clot all the way across Canada, despite the more than a million doses that have been given,” he said. “So that’s just, you know, putting it in context.”


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The survey also suggests that vaccine support in Canada is not as splintered along political lines as it is in the United States. Vaccines are trusted by 82 per cent of Liberal supporters, 73 per cent by Conservatives, 76 per cent by New Democrats, 71 per cent by Greens and 80 per cent by Bloc supporters.

Among residents in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal, the most trusted Mayor was John Tory at 44 per cent. The Prime Minister and Premiers have seen no real change in trust from January to May.

The poll found that doctors and scientists remain the preferred source of information for Canadians though trust in government health officers is also growing.

More than 80 per cent of Canadians trust information from doctors and scientists. Canada’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, has the trust of 68 per cent of the population while provincial health officers sit at 66 per cent on average.


With files from the Canadian Press