"There was a lot of that [coercion and manipulation] happening and well, that's not very trustworthy": a qualitative study on COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in Canada
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University of Guelph, Canada
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1617
Introduction: Although a large proportion of the Canadian population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, millions of eligible individuals remain unvaccinated. Trust in public health and government impacts the effectiveness of crisis communication and the public’s willingness to follow health recommendations. Methods: The research utilized a qualitative approach with semistructured interviews to understand the views and perspectives of vaccine-hesitant adults during COVID-19 in Canada. The interview questions were focused on questions about the key principles of the CDCs Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication Framework. Thematic analysis of the interviews was completed. Results and analysis: 12 participants were interviewed, contributing to four interrelated themes as important to COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy: (1) perceived low use of crisis communication guiding principles by public health and government is contributing to distrust of the spokesperson and message; (2) risk perception and decision-making around vaccine uptake are influenced by many sources and concerns surrounding vaccine research and development; (3) the pharmaceutical industry and perceived politicization of vaccine efforts are causing distrust; and (4) stigmatization related to COVID-19 vaccine status further entrenches views and erodes trust. Conclusions and implications for policy, practice, and research: This study highlights the importance of trust and how vaccine hesitancy is fueled by perceived ineffective crisis communication by officials. Crisis information that is targeted and tailored and evidence-based must reflect vaccine-hesitant individuals’ information needs and values, rather than a one-size fits all approach.  
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