Michele Newton - Speaker - Expert - Advocate Logo

Vaccine hesitancy a problem for us all

For those choosing not to be vaccinated, it’s time to get answers.

My family and I are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — by choice and by requirement. Living through a pandemic and continuing to live with COVID-19 in the community is testing our values, priorities and even our friendships. Over the past several months, I’ve found some of my friends, acquaintances and contacts are hesitant or have decided not to be vaccinated yet or at all. While they all come from different circumstances — socially, economically, and immigration status — they are all Black community members. For some insight into this topic, I reached out to Daphene Francis. She’s a PhD, researcher, registered nurse and certified health coach and currently a professor of nursing at Georgian College.

For context, her network is quite diverse and broad, extending across North America, Europe and the Caribbean. A Black Canadian of Afro Caribbean heritage, who moved to Barrie a little over a year ago, Francis has also lived in the Caribbean and the United States. “The historical research and medical abuse of Black and Indigenous folk has led to a distrust of health-care providers,” Francis said. “It would not be surprising to find a higher level of distrust and hesitancy among us. From my observations and conversations with diverse (socially, economically, racially) individuals, there’s simply a desire for more information about the vaccines and their long-term effects before getting them. Having these answers should be part of an informed consent process.”

Francis added, “There are many present-day injustices happening against BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of colour) folk within the health-care system that are impacting the community’s trust. As a health-care professional, I know first-hand the benefits of vaccinations. However, I also know the importance of informed consent and choice. When people can get the answers to their vaccine questions, they can make better choices.”

With many employers now requiring vaccinations, there will be little choice about it. People will be vaccinated or arrange for regular testing. For those choosing not to be vaccinated, it’s time to get answers from reliable up-to-date sources beyond Google, neighbours or social-media friends.

Your choices and behaviours affect me, my family and our community’s well-being.

Fully immunized and following COVID-19 public health policies, I’m doing my part. I encourage you to do yours — vaccine or not, please wear a mask and social distance.

Help protect our community and our country from the virus.

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