Join Insights West's Feedback Community to participate in meaningful research like this!Join


There are widely held misconceptions and uncertainties around the COVID-19 vaccine; many are concerned about the short (50%) and long-term side effects (56%), or that vaccine development was too rushed (49%). A notable minority (25%) think the vaccine will not be effective, that COVID-19 is not a serious disease (18%), or don’t trust any vaccines (15%).

Vancouver, BC — As the pace of vaccinations increases across Canada, a new survey by Insights West shows that although the vast majority of Canadians intend to get the vaccination when their age group comes up, there is a sizeable minority who do not intend to get it, and that there are significant concerns about the vaccine among both those who intend to receive the vaccine and those who do not.

In addition to those who have received the vaccine to date (16%), just under half of remaining Canadians (43%) are ‘100% certain’ they will be get the vaccine when it is made available to them, bringing the total to 59%.  Nearly one in four (23%) show some degree of hesitancy, being ‘very likely’ (15%) or ‘somewhat likely’ (8%) to receive it. However, nearly one-in-six (15%) will not or are unlikely to get it—specifically, 9% are not likely to get it (4% ‘somewhat unlikely’ and 5% ‘very unlikely’), and 5% are ‘100% certain’ they will not receive the vaccine. (The final 3% are not sure.)

Interesting differences arise in vaccine hesitancy among various subgroups. British Columbia residents are more likely than those from other provinces to express with 100% certainty that they will be getting the vaccine (54% versus between 37% and 48% for other provinces). Males (18% versus 11% of females) and those in the 35-54 year old age cohort (18% versus 15% of 18-34 years and 11% 55 years+) are more likely to fall into ‘vaccine hesitant’ category (very unlikely/somewhat unlikely/100% certain will not get the vaccine). Federal conservative voters (20%) are three times as likely as Liberal (7%) or NDP (7%) voters to be hesitant.

There are a wide range of concerns Canadians have about COVID-19 vaccines, and despite assurances of public health officers, politicians and medical community about the safety of the vaccines, these beliefs are fairly widespread. About half of Canadians are concerned about short term (50%) and long term (56%) side effects of the vaccines. This belief likely stems at least in part from the general feeling that the vaccine development was too rushed (49%). Another commonly held perception (45%) is that individuals feel it is unlikely they will suffer serious side effects if they were to contract COVID-19; this is a belief more likely to be held by 18-34 year olds (48%) and 35-54 year olds (50%) than those 55 years+ (38%).

Nearly half (46%) also believe that they don’t have enough information about the safety of the different vaccines, and 35% don’t trust the information coming out about the vaccine. Nearly four in ten (38%) believe that big pharma is just trying to profit from the vaccine, and a 26% think they are taking enough precautions so they don’t feel the need to get the vaccine. It’s interesting to note that 23% of Canadians are afraid of injections, which may play be a barrier as well.

There are also perceptions held by a smaller, but an alarming number of people across Canada, such a lack of belief that the vaccine will be effective (25%), that COVID-19 is not a serious disease (18%), and that they don’t trust any type of vaccine (15%). Males, those under the age of 55 years of age and federal conservative voters are more likely to hold these views.

It is perhaps expected that the 15% of Canadians who don’t intend to get the vaccine would hold negative views and concerns about the vaccine, but it is surprising to find how high concerns are even among those who have either received the vaccine or are 100% committed to receiving it. More than one-third of this group is concerned about long-term (37%) or short term (35%) side effects, three-in-ten believe the vaccine was too rushed (29%) or don’t have enough info about the safety of the vaccines (29%), one-quarter (25%) are concerned that big pharma is just trying to make a profit and 16% don’t trust the information about the vaccine.

Despite these misconceptions and concerns, there are a few key motivators driving Canadians to receive the vaccine. Among those who have taken the vaccine or are certain they will get it, 87% ‘strongly agree’ they are doing so because it’s the right thing to do for society, and 82% are doing so in order to safely see family and friends. A further 75% ‘strongly agree’ it’s the best way to stop the spread of the virus. Over half (55%) of this same group do have hesitations but are getting the vaccine anyway.

“In our nation-wide poll on vaccine hesitation, I’m surprised at the amount of uncertainty, misinformation, and outright conspiracies around the effectiveness and safety of the COVID-19 vaccine,” says Steve Mossop, President of Insights West. “These misconceptions are not held among a small, fringe segment of our society, but a rather significant minority, potentially threatening the efforts of health authorities across this nation in fighting the pandemic. Experts have said we need to reach a threshold of 80% vaccinations to beat this virus, and the current polling numbers suggest this will be a challenge.”

About Insights West:

Insights West is a full-service marketing research firm based in Western Canada. Since 2012, the company has conducted over one million surveys, executed 2,000 studies, and issued over 350 press releases on a variety of topics, correctly predicting the outcomes of 25 out of 26 elections and plebiscites. Insights West is a team of passionate, truth-seeking researchers who question everything to uncover the truth and what is emerging for a diverse set of clients. With an understanding of shifting markets, consumer and societal trends, and commitment to uncovering truths through a proprietary toolkit and innovative research approaches, Insights West helps organizations make better decisions. 

About this Release:

This survey was created in collaboration with APG Good Thinking, who are working to create Covid-19 Vaccine Hesitancy communications with strategists across Canada. Results are based on an online study conducted March 31 to April 5, 2021 among a sample of 1,603 residents across Canada. Respondents are part of Insights West’s Feedback Community and Leger Opinion’s online panel (LEO), panels of Canadian residents recruited from a variety of sources and backgrounds who share their views and opinions on an ongoing basis. The margin of error with the total sample—which measures sample variability—is +/- 2.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies between totals are due to rounding. Click HERE to view the detailed data tabulations.

For further information, please contact:

Steve Mossop
Insights West

Penny Norman
APG Good Thinking Lead