Are you hesitating to get vaccinated? Ask your questions to a vaccination advisor | Coronavirus

This is what he and his team will attempt, starting Wednesday, by offering Canadians a free 30-minute virtual interview, in the official language of their choice, with a vaccination advisor.

This pan-Canadian project, called MIICOVAC, builds on its PromoVac study, which increased vaccination rates in newborns and young children by offering hesitant mothers non-judgmental discussions with counsellors.

He believes it is possible to replicate this success with people hesitating this time before vaccination against COVID-19, for themselves or their children, by focusing on an open dialogue.

If it works for parents for vaccinating children, it could also work for vaccinating against COVID-19. We want to see if these interventions help people make their decision. »

A quote from Dr. Arnaud Gagneur

This professor from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Sherbrooke believes it is possible to convince them by having a respectful and empathetic conversation with them during which they can ask questions about the elements that concern them. Because he knows, from experience, that presenting the benefits of vaccination is sometimes not enough and can even prove to be counterproductive.

First tested in Sherbrooke, Dr. Gagneur’s PromoVac study reduced reluctance to vaccination by 40% in Quebec and encouraged more parents to have their children vaccinated.

Immunization coverage improved by 3.3% among babies aged 3 months, 5% among those aged 5 months and 7.4% among those aged 7 months. The project also demonstrated a 9% increased likelihood that children would be fully vaccinated by age 2 if their parents took advantage of this type of maternity intervention.

In 2018, this technique was extended to maternity units across Quebec, under the name of Motivational interviewing program in maternity for the immunization of children (EMMIE).

A vaccination campaign to relaunch

Dr. Arnaud Gagneur believes that vaccination is one of the most important elements to face the next months of the pandemic.

It is difficult to start again with prolonged closures and we can expect other major waves. The message on the need for vaccination must be reinforced. »

A quote from Dr. Arnaud Gagneur

However, if the vaccination campaign against COVID-19 initially aroused enthusiasm among the majority of Canadians, vaccination rates have stagnated for several months.

Just over 80% of the Canadian population has received two doses of the vaccine. In four provinces and territories (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories), the vaccination rate is less than 80% for two doses.

Only 47% of Canadians got the booster dose, which is essential to deal with the Omicron variant. In Alberta and Nunavut, the rate is 36%.

Fatima Tokhmafshan, a geneticist and science communicator, has been raising awareness about the importance of vaccination for almost a decade. The Coronavirus Variant Rapid Response Network (CoVaRR-Net), of which she is Director of Community and Patient Engagement, is associated with Dr. Gagneur’s project.

She also says she understands why some people are so reluctant to the vaccine. It’s a decision that affects a person’s health and it’s a very personal decision. And being able to properly judge the risks and benefits can be difficultshe argues.

She also laments that governments have transferred most of the responsibility for vaccination to people, without giving them the tools to make an informed decision.

While vaccination is now a polarizing and politicized subject, she believes that Dr. Gagneur’s strategy is a good way to reach out to those who hesitate, without stigmatizing them.

Interviews without judgment

According to Dr. Arnaud Gagneur, the motivational interviewing method is an approach that allows people who hesitate to express themselves to be respected in their questioning, not to be judged and to be independent in their choice.

Photo: Briand Goldman/CBC

Dr. Arnaud Gagneur and MIICOVAC counselors will use the method called motivational interviewing, an empathetic and non-confrontational style of communication developed by psychologists to bring about behavioral change (eg quitting smoking, eating better, etc.). It is this type of communication that is used with mothers after childbirth.

The goal is not to convince those who will participate at all costs, but rather to answer their questions and listen without judgment to their concerns.

It is a humanist approach, respectful of the person, which aims to understand their fears, to give them information that makes sense to them, all in an atmosphere of benevolence. »

A quote from Dr. Arnaud Gagneur

Fatima Tokhmafshan promises that advisers will not bombard people with data in the hope of convincing them. We first want to listen and validate their fearsshe assures.

According to Dr. Gagneur, the population is facing an “infodemic” in relation to the pandemic. He believes this project can help people who feel lost in the flood of information. There is a lot of information, a lot of contradictory information and false information, he notes. People are a little lost and are tired of being told everything and its opposite.

The CoVaRR-Net group, made up of nearly a hundred Canadian interdisciplinary researchers, trained the advisors.

These advisors have access to a network that has all the latest studies and data on COVID and vaccinessays Dr. Gagneur. If the counselors do not have the objective of giving a course in virology, they will really have all the up-to-date scientific data available to them. They have one context scientific; they are not going to tell anything.

Dr. Arnaud Gagneur firmly believes that this project can help increase vaccination rates, but he adds that the autonomy of a person who refuses to be vaccinated after the interview must be respected. At least, these people will have received all the information necessary to make an informed decision, according to him.

Interested persons can make an appointment on the MIICOVAC website (New window). Sessions are offered Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The project was funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

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