With more than two dozen COVID-19 vaccine candidates undergoing various levels of clinical trials around the world, Canadians are debating over who should get vaccinated first, whether vaccination should be mandatory, and whether the vaccine could present possible side effects.
A public opinion poll released by the non-profit Angus Reid Institute on Tuesday found Canadians largely in favour of vaccination but divided how quickly they want to get vaccinated when and if a vaccine becomes available in Canada.
The poll shows that nearly half of Canadians say they have no reservations and are ready to get a vaccination as soon as it becomes available. However, one-in-three (32 per cent ) say they would likely wait a while.
One characteristic that divides these two groups is worry over potential side effects, according to the poll.
Over three-quarters (76 per cent) of those who say they will wait to get the vaccine also say they are worried about side effects. By contrast, only 37 per cent among those who are eager to get vaccinated as soon as possible worry about possible side effects.
There is also a clear political divide in attitudes towards vaccination, the poll shows.
Those who supported the Liberals or New Democrats in the 2019 election are overwhelmingly in favour of seeking vaccination – nine-in-ten say they will do so. But among past Conservative Party voters support for vaccination drops to three-in-five.
The poll shows that three-quarters of respondents say that they do not feel life in their community will get back to normal until most people are vaccinated. But there are major differences between urban and rural respondents, among whom only 59 per cent feel this way.
Three-quarters of Canadians say that a coronavirus vaccine should be mandatory in long-term care homes, which have been the hardest hit by the pandemic, and for healthcare workers.
Slightly less than two-thirds of Canadians (63 per cent) say vaccinations should be mandatory in schools.