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Misinformation online plays role in COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy: Tam – Ashcroft Cache Creek Journal

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Canada’s chief public health officer is warning against the spread of online untruths about vaccines, as a new survey suggests some Canadians are worried about getting inoculated against COVID-19.

Dr. Theresa Tam made the comments during a news conference Tuesday while responding to the Statistics Canada survey, which found nearly one-quarter of respondents unlikely or unsure whether they would get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Many experts and political leaders have touted the successful development and widespread rollout of a vaccine as essential for an eventual return to normalcy, including the full reopening of economies and ending physical distancing.

More than 76 per cent of respondents in the Statistics Canada survey indicated they would likely get inoculated if and when a vaccine is ready. Yet 14 per cent said they were somewhat or very unlikely to do so. Nine per cent remained unsure.

Those who indicated they were unlikely to get a vaccine were asked to identify the reasons for their reluctance. More than half cited a lack of confidence in its safety while a similar number said they were worried about potential risks and side effects.

About one-quarter of respondents, who were allowed to give more than one answer, said they did not consider it necessary to get the vaccine while about 10 per cent indicated they did not believe in vaccines at all.

More than one-third said they would likely just wait until the vaccine seemed safe.

The survey also indicated younger Canadians and those who don’t have a university degree are more likely to be hesitant or nervous about a vaccine than those who are older and more educated.

The crowd-sourced survey of around 4,000 Canadians was conducted between June 15-21. It cannot be given a margin of error because the participants do not represent a random sample.

Asked about the survey, Tam underscored the importance of “vaccine confidence,” describing it as integral to the successful rollout of vaccine.

She went on to promise that regulators won’t take any shortcuts with safety despite the government agreeing to several changes to the clinical-trial process to get a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed faster.

“Just because it’s an accelerated process to get vaccines for Canadians does not mean we’re going to shortchange anything on safety and effectiveness,” Tam said. “I do have confidence in our regulatory system.”

Tam also took aim at the spread of falsehoods about vaccines online.

“I do think social media and internet companies do have responsibilities in terms of their role in the space,” she said.

“So I would look towards different partners, different government departments also coming together to look at how we better address some of the misinformation that’s in that space.”

READ MORE: 30% of British Columbians would ‘wait and see’ before taking COVID vaccine: poll

She is not the first to speak out on this issue, as some have blamed the growing number and influence of anti-vaccination groups online for a resurgence in childhood diseases such as measles.

Facebook announced last year that it would be cracking down on so-called “anti-vaxxer” groups, which included labelling posts deemed as containing false information about vaccines. The social media giant now being sued by one such group in California.

Josh Greenberg, a communications professor at Carleton University who has been studying Canadians’ attitudes towards a COVID-19 vaccine, said safety concerns aren’t unexpected, given the pressure governments and industry are facing to get something working fast.

Yet he said it is essential that Ottawa push back against misinformation campaigns, which have been growing in numbers and influence even as governments around the world have been slow to react.

“When you look at issues like COVID-19 and the campaign to ready or prepare the public for the eventual release of a vaccine, you’re talking about a battle for both hearts and minds,” Greenberg said.

“It’s not just an information battle of trying to make sure that people have accurate information, but that you are persuading them in such a way that they trust the veracity of the information you’re providing and they also trust the source of that information.”

While the world is rushing to find a vaccine for COVID-19, new reports of several people having been reinfected with the novel coronavirus after testing positive once before raise concerns that it might be a moving target.

Deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo said the cases in Hong Kong, Belgium and the Netherlands highlight ongoing questions about immunity to COVID-19 and the need for an effective vaccine.

READ MORE: Canada signs deals with Pfizer, Moderna to get doses of COVID-19 vaccines

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press


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Public Health Sudbury reports area's 102nd case of COVID-19 – Sudbury.com

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Public Health Sudbury & Districts is reporting a new COVID-19 case in its service area.

Through contact tracing, Public Health will notify all close contacts directly. If you are not contacted by Public Health, you are not considered a close contact.

The 102nd case in this area was tested Sept. 17, and is self-isolating. The person, who is from Greater Sudbury, has unknown exposure (no travel and no contact with a known case).

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Staff and patients part of outbreak at Foothills Medical Centre – 660 NEWS – 660 News

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CALGARY (CityNews) — An outbreak has been declared at Calgary’s Foothills Medical Centre.

Alberta Health Services says that a small number of patients, along with two members of staff within one unit at the hospital, have tested positive for COVID-19.

Visitors to the unit are being restricted to end of life situations until further notice.

Testing is being offered to all patients within the affected unit, and outbreak control measures have been implemented.

Healthcare workers are responsible for self-assessing any symptoms before reporting to work, while patients who test positive for the virus are treated and isolated in designated rooms.

In a statement, AHS asserts that the hospital remains safe to visit and that there is no increased risk to visitors or patients at the hospital.

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AHS declares COVID-19 outbreak on 3 units at Calgary’s Foothills Medical Centre – Global News

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Alberta Health Services confirmed Sunday that it declared a COVID-19 outbreak on three units at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary after nine patients and two staff members tested positive for the virus.

“We anticipate this situation will continue to evolve as test results come in and we will provide daily updates,” AHS communications manager Melissa Ballantyne said.

Read more:
AHS declares COVID-19 outbreak at Calgary’s Peter Lougheed Centre

All patients on the unit are offered testing, and contact tracing is ongoing, AHS said.

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“While we appreciate it may be difficult for some, visitors to this one unit are limited to only end-of-life situations until further notice,” AHS said in a statement to Global News.

The health authority said all AHS facilities follow “rigorous infection prevention and control standards,” saying that health-care workers are asked to self-assess for COVID-19 symptoms and exposure risk using a screening tool in addition to masking.

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Read more:
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Auburn Bay school in Calgary

“The Foothills Medical Centre remains a safe place to visit and to receive care. There is no increased risk to patients coming to the hospital,” AHS said.

“Any patient with symptoms, or who has tested positive for COVID-19, is isolated and treated in designated rooms.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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