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“It’s stalled:” The group is working to break the vaccine reluctance in Alberta




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The impetus to break the Alberta COVID-19 vaccine hesitation comes with the vocal cord of a breathing patient and the teams of a tense ICU with medical preparations to intubate him.


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The simulated 30-second hospital scene using medical professionals, shot over two days at a nursing school in Calgary last month, was created by concerns that provincial efforts to fully vaccinate Albertans had stalled.

It has stalled, but everywhere it has flattened again, said Dr. Jia Hu, chairman of the nonprofit group 19 to Zero that produced the video, titled It’s never too late.

Public health practitioner has teamed up with former Edmonton and New York City advertising specialist Raj Pannu to launch a campaign to promote COVID-19 vaccines in Alberta.

Both say the province’s efforts to do so have relied more on attracting the conscience of Albanians and the spirit of the community and this has not been enough and a harsher message is needed.


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Many of the previous communications have focused on the moral and ethical aspects of vaccination, said Pannu of Edmonton.

It is effective with many populations, but does not shake all people.

The groups’ video debuted on social media and TV a month ago, the latter targeting areas like northeastern Alberta where vaccination levels are lowest.

They have also set up billboards in places like Fort McMurray and encouraged vaccinations through other means, including a website.

Pannu said the video, shot from the perspective of patients with a nurse holding a cell phone with a phone call from her mother, was not intended as a scary tactic.

It is not intended to intimidate, it is a description of what is actually happening, he said.


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Provincial health officials have stopped the media from reporting the horrific realities of COVID-19 from within ICUs in Alberta, he noted, leading 19 to Zero to fabricate their own.

The group began mobilizing even before the COVID-19 vaccines became widely available in the hope that it would need to promote immunizations.

But the latest attempt came amid fears of a fifth wave spurred on by people who were in nearby neighborhoods and what he calls the pace of the vaccination ban.

It is stuck, flattened, Pannu said. We were not saying this would be a total solution, but hopefully it will move the needle.

One month ago, 78 per cent of qualified Albanians were fully immunized against COVID-19, while that number is now only 83 per cent, with 9,681 doses administered on 17 November.


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It is a figure that has fluctuated in recent weeks, but is much lower than a recent summer altitude of 34,225 shots given on September 17, shortly after the province unveiled its exemption program, a voluntary vaccination passport. Earlier in the summer, the government had offered $ 100 cash cards and a multimillion-dollar lottery as vaccination incentives.

Rural areas remain hotbeds of vaccine reluctance, with the Forty Mile County in the southeastern provinces with 47.5 per cent of its eligible population fully immunized, a number that has risen by six per cent in the past month.

The lowest acquisition is among those aged 12 to 39, of whom less than 80 per cent have been inoculated.

Pannu acknowledges that other government policies are more effective than the approach of his groups.


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Vaccine passports are much more effective than advertising campaigns, he said.

Alberta, like other jurisdictions, has faced a strong core of vaccine reluctance, whose reluctance is fueled by distrust of government and vaccines, a lack of concern for COVID-19 and challenges to enter, Hu said.

Some of them are like the reality that many people know they should visit their doctor (for a checkup) but can not worry, said Hu, who advised the Calgary mess on COVID-19 protocols last summer.

That reluctance, he predicted, will only harden when vaccines are distributed to children.

An infectious disease specialist in Edmonton said the concerns of vaccine groups are valid and achieving the final 17 percent who are not fully immunized will be difficult.


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The introduction of vaccine passports led to a projected increase in vaccine intake, but those who have continued to resist vaccination remain difficult to achieve, said Dr. Ilan Schwartz, adding that the video strongly captures the despair of patients.

I’m not sure if this (video) is likely to be effective, but it did well.

Provincial health officials have expressed disappointment about vaccination levels in some parts of the province and say that while more people are immunized, the pace tends to slow down.

Jurisdictions around the world are experiencing how it becomes more difficult to direct vaccines further as they reach high levels, absorption begins to slow down and begins to be a plateau, which is to be expected, said Alberta Health spokeswoman Chris Bourdeau, who noted a brochure promoting vaccinations mailed home earlier this month.

Alberta Health continues to set a strong priority in making vaccines appropriately available in over 1,400 pharmacies, plus AHS clinics and doctors’ offices. We have also recently launched a multifaceted advertising campaign that encourages Albertans to get vaccinated.

He said that the efforts of non-governmental organizations to help this effort are appreciated.

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Tweet: @BillKaufmannjrn



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