Saskatchewan Examiner

Thursday, December 7, 2023

4 out of 5 Sask. residents in new U of S survey say they will get the COVID-19 vaccine

Fewer agree government is taking appropriate steps to contain virus, compared to previous survey

Nearly 80 per cent of Saskatchewan residents will get a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes broadly available, a new University of Saskatchewan survey suggests, but support for the vaccine varied depending on where respondents lived.

The survey, performed by the U of S’s Canadian Hub for Applied and Social Research, found respondents living in cities are more likely to get immunized against the novel coronavirus than those living in rural areas.

“Those who live in urban areas — Saskatoon, Prince Albert, Regina, Moose Jaw, those sort of places — we found 88 per cent said they’re likely to get the vaccine, versus about 69 per cent of those living in rural areas of the province,” CHASR director Jason Disano said. 

The survey was conducted in partnership with CBC Saskatchewan and Postmedia News from Dec. 3 to 13, with 400 people aged 18 or older participating province-wide. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Fewer people agree the government is taking the appropriate steps

As Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine is being rolled out across Canada, health officials caution containment measures will need to remain in place until the general population has been immunized.

On Thursday, new COVID-19 measures came into effect in Saskatchewan, but confidence in the government’s management of the virus has waned, according to the survey.

In June, 85 per cent of respondents to a CHASR survey said the government was taking appropriate steps to protect residents from the virus. In early December’s survey, 75 per cent of people agreed enough is being done.

“From a statistical point of view, it is a significant change, a fairly substantial one in our relatively short six-month period of time,” Disano said. “I think people are certainly taking note of what’s happening in terms of the rising case count across the province in the second wave, and I think people are sort of looking at where some of the responsibility for this lies.”

While fewer people agree the government is taking the appropriate steps, the majority of respondents — two out of three — believe individuals are ultimately responsible for stopping the virus. Just one in 10 people indicated responsibility falls to the government.

Are people following public health orders?

More than 95 per cent of survey respondents said they were adhering to the province’s five-person gathering limit within private residences. However, some said they were willing to break that order for the holidays.

Before the new measures came into effect, about one in 10 respondents said they were not going to adhere to the five-person gathering limit for Christmas.

“I would think if that held true, and one in 10 folks who aren’t currently adhering say they’re going to get together with grandma and grandpa and their aunts and uncles and their parents, it could be very problematic in terms of the disease and the impact and repercussions post-holiday season,” Disano said. 

He added it would be interesting to ask the same question again in six-months to see if people followed the new public health order, which states unless you’re an individual, Christmas gatherings are restricted to household members only.

“I think certainly pandemic fatigue and COVID fatigue is a thing, and absolutely setting in. It’s been nine, almost 10 long months of this. Of course there’s an end in sight with the vaccine coming, but it’s still quite a ways away.” 

Finding a silver lining…or not

Respondents were also asked if anything positive has come out of the pandemic. They weren’t given a list to choose from, but many participants gave similar answers. 

Spending more time with family and community cohesiveness were among the good things people said that came out of the pandemic.

But one in four felt nothing good has come.

“It seemed in general people more or less had a negative opinion of the pandemic altogether, and generally seemed to struggle to see the positives in any of it,” Disano said. 

“I can’t say I’m overly surprised. I think if I was surprised at anything, it was only one in four. There’s quite a lot of negativity surrounding the pandemic and restrictions.” 

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