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Trust, sharing experiences key to convincing vaccine hesitant to get shots, Sask. residents say

People across the world are getting their COVID-19 vaccinations, like this person at a clinic in Calgary. Some, however, remain hesitant. (Leah Hennel/AHS - image credit)

People across the world are getting their COVID-19 vaccinations, like this person at a clinic in Calgary. Some, however, remain hesitant. (Leah Hennel/AHS – image credit)

Across Saskatchewan — which continues to have some of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates in Canada — some people have struggled with talking to their loved ones about getting vaccines.

Those conversations are taking place in homes, schools, churches and family get-togethers.

While it can be uncomfortable, some people in Saskatchewan have been pushing others who are hesitant to get vaccinated.

CBC talked with three people who shared their stories about those conversations.

Nuha Patel

Submitted by Nuha Patel

Submitted by Nuha Patel

Nuha Patel, 12, is offering moral support for people getting their vaccines.

One of her friends is afraid of needles and was anxious about getting vaccinated.

“I told her I probably had the same feelings as her, but I told her that in the end it’s important that you protect your family and community and your loved ones,” she said.

Patel is the oldest in her friend group, so she got her shot before her friends became eligible. When a vaccine-hesitant friend approached her, Patel told them they had to face the challenge head-on.

Patel said she is surprised that she’s the one convincing others to get vaccinated, because she herself used to be terrified of needles.

Convincing others to get vaccinated makes her feel strong, she says.

“It makes me feel like I can help people make a change in our little world.”

Arinjay Banerjee

Submitted by Arinjay Banerjee

Submitted by Arinjay Banerjee

Arinjay Banerjee is a research scientist with VIDO-Intervac, a vaccine research facility at the University of Saskatchewan.

Two of his friends were vaccine hesitant and wanted to wait to see how it played out for others who got the shot.

A few weeks ago they contacted Banerjee to ask him questions about the vaccines.

He said it helped to be patient with them and give responses backed by science.

Trust was also important, Banjeree said.

“I think that was really key to get this information across — that, ‘Hey you’re my friend, you’ve trusted me for so long. Trust me when I give you these facts,'” he said.

His two friends ended up sending him a selfie after getting their vaccines.

“I almost cried a little bit,” he said.

He encourages people to share the reasons they got vaccinated with their friends who are hesitant.

“If all of us convince one friend, we will get there.”

Mohamed Hajinoor

Submitted by Mohamed Hajinoor

Submitted by Mohamed Hajinoor

Mohamed Hajinoor is the principal of the Saskatoon Misbah School, a kindergarten to Grade 9 Islamic school. He has been involved with the local Somali community for more than 20 years.

He said many people in his community come to him for advice, including about getting vaccinated.

His method of convincing people involves mentioning the hajj, the holy pilgrimage to Mecca that thousands of Muslims take every year. Several vaccines are needed to take the journey.

Hajinoor said that if you are willing to get those vaccines, you might as well get one for COVID-19 as well.

“The Somali community …most of them took the vaccine because of our encouragement,” he said.

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