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Misinformation on COVID-19 vaccines alive and well, says Waterloo professor

University of Waterloo professor Kelly Grindrod said a single news headline can make all the difference
2021-02-16 vaccine
Vaccine vile/Canadian Press

Misinformation seems to be a common theme when it comes to getting that second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Though one expert is looking to clear the air.

Kelly Grindrod, an associate professor in the University of Waterloo's School of Pharmacy said a single news headline, or an ill-informed tourism policy can empty a vaccine clinic in a matter of minutes.

For the most part, Grindrod said were doing fairly well, but reaching a certain percentile is going to take a lot of convincing.

"So, we're probably going to get to 80 per cent vaccination based on the fact that we're already there with first doses in the eligible population, and we're getting there quickly with the second doses," she said.

"We might have a bit of work making sure the second doses get to that same point. What we're really focused on right now is getting that number to 90 per cent."

Grindrod said people who are truly against vaccines are a small group with a loud voice, and the challenge is that people are agreeing with them over science and facts.

"One of the challenges we're also having is that people don't know what to make of that messaging," she said.

"When I'm vaccinating people, I still have people who come in and ask me, will a coin stick to my arm? Does this mean my vaccine didn't work?"

Grindrod said all it takes is one headline to steer people in the wrong direction.

"The one thing we're really struggling with is that the headlines can be a number of things," she said, "There could be a misleading headline, which we saw with the World Health Organization, where they misquoted the WHO and said that WHO is against mixing vaccines, where the messaging was toward people going out on their own getting third or fourth doses."

Brandon Graziano

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