GODERICH, ONTARIO – There are some Ontarians who will never get vaccinated no matter what, but a group of researchers believes it’s time to reach out to those who are simply “vaccine hesitant,” particularly in rural Ontario.“Too often, people who are vaccine-hesitant are met with derision or anger, which is not going to get them to get vaccinated. So, by having an open, non-judgmental discussion with these trained volunteers, we might be able to make some progress,” says Reaching Rural co-ordination Daniel Stuckless. Stuckless, a pharmacy student at the University of Waterloo, is collaborating with researchers at Huron County’s Gateway Centre of Excellence for Rural Health. He is also collaborating with Dr. Feng Chang on a programme that will connect vaccinated Huron, Bruce, and Grey County residents with unvaccinated ones.
Vaccinated volunteers would have video calls or teleconferences once a month with their neighbours who haven’t yet received the shot. Huron-Perth and Grey-Bruce are currently just behind the provincial average of 80% of eligible residents who are fully vaccinated.“Perhaps someone who was hesitant about getting vaccinated but later changed their mind.
That is the type of person and viewpoint we want to share with people, because we are not trying to force you to get the vaccine through this programme. It is the open discussion that is valuable. Right now, all we can hear is people yelling at each other. “How about sitting down at a table and talking about it and addressing those concerns?” suggests Stuckless.
As well-intentioned as they may be, vaccine mandates and passports, according to Stuckless, are pushing those who are already inclined not to listen to government officials even further away from getting vaccinated. He’s hoping that a conversation with a neighbour will help to alleviate those unvaccinated people’s concerns.“I don’t see that addressed very well a lot of the time, personally. You could try to address it at the government or high level, but people might not listen at this point. So, getting that rural perspective, from someone they might even know, I think could be useful,” he says.
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