Wanted: vaccine champions | New


Clean data, reliable messengers, and convenient access – that’s what works. Judgy wagging her fingers? Not really.

These are the keys to transforming vaccine hesitancy into vaccine uptake according to experts from the 19 to zero coalition, a national multidisciplinary effort launched in 2020 in collaboration with the University of Calgary. Dedicated to changing behaviors and building confidence in COVID-19 vaccines, they ask for your help in spreading the word.

“We need vaccine champions!” says Heather Bensler, RN, MSN, an instructor in the Faculty of Nursing working with 19 to zero. “When someone you know and trust receives the vaccine, it increases confidence in the people who may be on the fence. These conversations are probably the most effective thing we can do. “

To spur those conversations, 19 to Zero recently helped launch #ThisIsOurShotCA, enlisting an array of celebrities from Hayley Wickenheiser and Michael Bublé to Ryan Reynolds and Chris Hadfield to show their support for vaccines. “These are people who already have a voice, so if we can partner with them, that strengthens our message,” Bensler says.

And it’s not just the celebrities that dominate, she says. “All of my friends post pictures of themselves getting vaccinated. When we share this, we create a feeling of solidarity, and it has an impact.

Bensler speaks. She says right now she has three or four one-on-one conversations a day about the vaccine, either with a pregnant woman in doubt, or with an old friend who is reluctant to the vaccine. “I want to hug my parents and come together again,” she said. “Vaccines are an individual intervention, but they only work if the majority of the population gets them.”

Cora Constantinescu and Jia Hu.

Build trust, fight complacency and provide barrier-free convenience

“Just correcting misinformation doesn’t work on its own,” says Dr. Cora Constantinescu, MD, assistant professor at the Cumming School of Medicine working alongside other experts from the 19 to Zero coalition. “We think if people have just the right facts it will make all the difference, but it’s not it.”

People need to see how these facts relate to their own lives, their own world views and what matters to them personally, says Constantinescu, whose work at the Alberta Vaccination Reluctance Clinic. Children’s Hospital informs its contributions to 19 at No Effort.

“Overcoming vaccine hesitancy usually hinges on three things: trust, complacency and convenience,” she says. In other words, people need to have confidence in the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine and in health agencies; believing that the vaccine is necessary and that the disease is in fact a threat; and having convenient access to the vaccine through measures such as paid sick days, transportation, site clinics or translation services.

“It’s a constant change where the reluctance comes from and it’s the power of 19 to zero. We have people who analyze in real time the reasons for the reluctance, and then people who work to address those specific concerns, ”she says. “What works is to be fluid. There’s another hesitation this week, and it’s changing all the time.

Constantinescu asserts that the 19 vs. zero coalition has broadened the scope of available approaches. “It opened my mind to solutions and possibilities that I never could have done otherwise,” she says. “Suddenly, the solutions you offer are so much bigger than your own niche.”

Driving attitude change with detailed real-time data

19 to Zero takes a multimodal approach to understand and engage in the shift in perception towards COVID-19. Its contributors have provided in-depth research, created educational tools for health professionals, Finished community outreachand committed governments. Its Nudge Unit is led by behavior economists, there is a social media analytics team that tracks vaccine sentiment across North America, and there are local initiatives like #ThisIsOurShotCA and campaigns to wider national advertising. The team goes all out, fully aware of the stakes.

“If Cora could have a conversation with all Canadians one-on-one, we could get a huge number of people vaccinated, but Cora doesn’t have time to have a conversation with 35 million people,” says Dr. Jia Hu, MD, co-chair and co-founder of 19 to Zero, and clinical assistant professor at the Cumming School of Medicine. “So that’s where we start to activate other places of trust, with more voices telling people that getting the vaccine is important and why.”

“We need to go beyond just telling people to get vaccinated and being informed about the data,” Hu said. “For example, we saw in our weekly survey that after NACI (National Advisory Committee on Immunization) suspended AstraZeneca for those under 55, there was a 30% drop in the number of people wanting this. vaccine. Having this ability to collect data in real time is extremely useful. “

UCalgary shows the Canadian example

Like Constantinescu and Bensler, Hu emphasizes the need for a holistic approach to society and includes not only individuals who do their part, but also institutions like the University of Calgary, to which he credits for helping. to Zero to throw and succeed.

“The extent to which the University of Calgary has worked with public health and government is unprecedented,” says Hu. “I’m so grateful, it’s really wonderful actually the support from the whole campus. A good example is that medical students mobilize to do contact tracing during the first wave. It was the only place that was happening.

Hu and his 19-to-zero colleagues are cautiously optimistic. “We have the key to the pandemic, and that’s really good,” he says. “We’ll get there, but the pace will depend on how quickly we get people vaccinated.


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