By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
As of data available Friday, Oct. 29, only 62.9 per cent of eligible residents in Lethbridge County have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. of the eligible residents 12 years or older, only 69 per cent had received at least one dose of the vaccine. The figures for rural areas and smaller municipalities continue to report markedly lower vaccination rates than larger urban centres in Alberta. Reeve of Lethbridge County, Tory Campbell, said the lower vaccine uptake in Lethbridge County is worrisome.
“Obviously there is a level of concern. We would all like to see the rural vaccination rates throughout the province higher and mirroring our urban neighbours.”
The second cycle of the COVID-19 Vaccination Coverage Survey (CVCS) was conducted from April 12 to May 12, 2021.
The national survey reported three main reasons for vaccine hesitancy at the time — 45 per cent of respondents opposed to the vaccine do not trust the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines, and 30 per cent reported hesitation regarding the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines and over one in four respondents who were opposed cited hesitancy because they perceived their risk for getting COVID-19 was low.
The perception of those in rural areas with less day-to-day contact with others is one reason for low vaccine uptake in Lethbridge County said Campbell.
“There’s probably a host of different reasons why that uptake is lower. I think there is maybe a bit of an attitude that it’s not as important if you’re having less daily interactions with people outside of your own household and maybe that is created a bit of, you know, a sense of false security.”
The polarizing issue of vaccination has many people hesitant to speak publicly on the issue. One resident of Coaldale cited concern over their name being attributed to their commentary regarding the data. In reference to the 62 per cent of double vaccinated residents 12 or older, he said.
“That’s probably way higher than I would expect it to be around here.”
Citing his frustration over the refusal of “misinformed and distrustful” people refusing to consider vaccination, “the conspiracy theories are ridiculous.”
Several Coaldale residents approached by Sunny South News were not willing to comment at all on the data released by the government of Alberta.
Reeve Tory Campbell said to try to combat the drop off of vaccine uptake, “the county continues to push out information through all of our social media channels and continues to push out PSAs and just, you know, continue to beat the drum regarding following the current advice.
(The County is) trying to drive home that message to get vaccinated […] no matter how few of contacts you’re having throughout the course of your day your week, your month (to) all pull together and continue to look at the bigger picture that vaccination and vaccines give us our clearest path out of the pandemic to return to normal for everyone.”