Dr. Joss Reimer is hoping to help uncertain Manitobans make a more educated choice about the COVID-19 vaccine.
Aware that there are Manitobans on all ends of the spectrum when it comes to confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine, Reimer says #ProtectMB will address that. One statistic the province has found shows that while 80 per cent of Manitobans are "keeners" to get the vaccine, something Reimer is excited to see, approximately nine per cent say they will not get the vaccine at all.
"I think there are a lot of things that we want to do to improve confidence in the vaccine. Certainly, there are some communities that are more reluctant than others, but even among communities where uptick is very good there are always individuals who for a variety of reasons choose not to be vaccinated," the doctor says.
For herd immunity to work, 70 per cent of people in each community will need to be vaccinated. If one community has a larger population of unvaccinated people, herd immunity will not be as effective.
"We usually, with this virus, talk about around 70 per cent. Now unlike things like measles where we have decades of data to go one, this 70 per cent is based on a lot less information," Reimer says, noting it is "a bit of" an estimate. "When I see that over 80 per cent of Manitobans are eager to get the vaccine, I am really encouraged by that."
She says if 80 per cent of Manitobans are vaccinated by the summer, the province will be in a "completely different situation" than one year ago, wanting to avoid a repeat of the fall.
Looking to alleviate concerns about the vaccine, messaging about things such as vaccination myths will be communicated.
"The #ProtectMB campaign is just the first step in reaching Manitobans to try to get information about the vaccine generally, including the safety information around it and the effectiveness around it."
They will be addressing myths such as "COVID-19 is no worse than the seasonal flu," "vitamin D supplements can prevent or even treat COVID-19, so I don’t need a vaccine," and "the COVID-19 vaccine will make me sick with COVID-19."
Reimer wants to continue to communicate with Manitobans through press conferences.
"Our communications team is also working on further rollout plans to address any sort of hesitancy that we see through the province. And we will be engaging with stakeholders, community leaders, to ensure that we have mechanisms to reach a variety of communities within Manitoba."
This information is also intended to help those who are on the fence about getting the vaccine.
They say most vaccine "keeners" are older Manitobans, and primarily women. They are calling those people vaccine champions, hoping they will share their enthusiasm with friends and family. So far the uptake rate of the vaccine is higher than anticipated.