Most Canadians will take the Covid-19 vaccine – but one in five say they won't

18 December 2020 3 min. read

Most Canadians (78%) say they’ll get the Covid-19 vaccine if it’s offered in the next three months, according to a recent survey from KPMG Canada. However, 22% said they wouldn’t take the vaccine.

The online survey, which polled 2,002 Canadians in December, found that 53% of Canadians feel its safe to get inoculated, while 25% say that it’s not totally safe, but they’ll take the shots to get their lives and the economy back on track.

One in five respondents said they won’t take the Covid-19 shot because of concerns over vaccine safety and how the rollout will be managed.

Though provinces aren’t making the vaccine mandatory, some employers may require vaccinations, while airlines and international travel may require proof of vaccination in the future. Social pressure and shaming may also convince some on the margins, though hardcore anti-vaxxers are obviously less likely to be swayed.

KPMG’s experts point to the importance of transparency in getting more people on board the voluntary vaccine train. “With half of the population in Canada looking for assurances on the safety and rollout of the vaccines, it's critical that all players in the healthcare sector continue to work together to strengthen the public's comfort in getting inoculated," said Jerome Thirion, KPMG's national leader of supply chain management. "Conflicting messages makes full transparency essential for a successful roll out of the country's largest-ever vaccine campaign."

Most Canadians will take the Covid-19 vaccine – but one in five say they won’t

In order to feel safe, Canadians said they need full transparency on all aspects of the vaccine program (96%), as well as “clear assurance” that health practitioners are properly recording, tracking, and reporting potential side effects with public health authorities (96%).

“The overwhelming majority of Canadians want ‘clear assurance’ that the country has a robust management system in order to trust the process and feel safe taking these new vaccinations," Thirion added.

The top three concerns related to the Covid-19 vaccination program are that the vaccines have been rushed to market without knowing they are safe (63%); distribution in Canada will be delayed because of jurisdictional red tape (46%); and that there may be the same quality issues with foreign-made vaccines as there were with personal protective equipment in the first part of the pandemic (45%).

Linked to the above concern about red tape, 64% of Canadian said they think the military should be involved to ensure an effective and efficient rollout. Lucky for them, the military will in fact be involved in national vaccine distribution, with Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin overseeing the massive logistical hurdle of getting vaccines to millions of Canadians in 2021.

The concern about the quality of foreign-made vaccines is perhaps a bit off-base, however. Canada isn’t buying Sinopharm vaccines from China – the source of faulty PPE in the first wave – but the extension of this sentiment to a vaccine is spurious reasoning anyway. In any case, citizens would be furious if any country opted to wait for a domestic vaccine to be developed instead of getting the first ones available from the US and Germany.

"There is light in this very dark tunnel. But, Canada is at a critical juncture," said Karina Guy, KPMG's digital health leader in Western Canada. "For so many Canadians, the last 10 months have been difficult with lives taken and livelihoods lost. Now, Canada has an opportunity to build hope and momentum, supported by transparency and trust."