The most widely held myth was ‘researchers rushed the development of the COVID-19 vaccine, so its effectiveness and safety cannot be trusted’
A recent poll surveying Canadians revealed skepticism towards booster shots and vaccine myths.
In a survey compiled by analytics giant Leger for the Association for Canadian Studies and the University of Manitoba during the middle of March 2022, Canadians were presented with a list of nine COVID-related myths and were asked whether they were true, false or if the respondents simply don’t know.
Of the almost 3000 individuals who were polled, one in eight Canadians believe vaccine myths and another one in five are unsure.
The most widely held myths, according to the poll, are that “researchers rushed the development of the COVID-19 vaccine, so its effectiveness and safety cannot be trusted” and that “the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are dangerous.”
Americans, who were polled with the same questions, are far more likely to subscribe to myths about vaccination than are Canadians, the survey found.
Fifteen per cent of polled Americans agreed that the COVID-19 vaccine was developed with or contains controversial substances such as aborted fetuses.
This skepticism showed that Canadians, 61 per cent, are more likely to get boosted than Americans, 37 per cent.
The statistics also show that Indigenous persons in the United States were most likely to report that they contracted COVID-19. With only 70 per cent stating they were vaccinated, president and CEO of the Association for Canadian Studies Jack Jedwab says hesitancy may not be the issue.
“In terms of indigenous communities, I don’t think it’s attributable to vaccine hesitancy,” he said. “I think some of it is attributable to access issues which need to be further examined.”
More notably, Black or African-Americans were least likely to get the vaccine at a mere 67 per cent.
“There is a historic issue to this in terms of persons identifying as Black being the object of experimentation in the United States,” Jedwab said. “That may be contributing to some of the hesitancy.”
The infamous Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis, conducted by the United States Public Health Service, is one such example where the goal was to “observe the natural history of untreated syphilis” in black populations. The subjects were completely unaware and were instead told they were receiving treatment for bad blood when in fact, they received no treatment at all.
“When we talk about why Black people wouldn’t trust a medical establishment, a lot of people cite Tuskegee, which makes sense,” Rana Hogarth, a history professor at the University of Illinois, told USA Today.
While the reasoning for booster hesitancy between both groups may differ, vaccine awareness remains a top priority.
“I don’t know if it’s a BIPOC phenomenon, in the sense that I’m not sure the reasoning for each group is the same,” Jedwab said. “But clearly in both cases, something that needs to be addressed particularly is vaccine awareness.”
The findings were released during National Immunization Awareness Week (NIAW) as part of an effort to shed light on the importance of vaccines.