Closing Canada's COVID-19 vaccination gap.

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Author: Diana Duong
Date: Sept. 27, 2021
From: CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal(Vol. 193, Issue 38)
Publisher: CMA Joule Inc.
Document Type: Article
Length: 1,100 words
Lexile Measure: 1530L

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The Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 may drive the threshold for herd immunity higher, necessitating vaccination rates over 80%. But nine months into Canada's vaccine rollout, 32% of the population and 22% of people who are eligible have not yet received two shots.

Clinics and governments are getting creative to encourage the hesitant across the vaccination finish line--from reducing barriers to accessing the shots to rewarding people who get them.

Mandates hold promise

So far, vaccine mandates have proven the most effective strategy for increasing uptake. Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario all saw vaccination appointments double the day they unveiled plans to require proof of vaccination for recreational activities like indoor dining and sporting events. Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador have since announced similar vaccine passport programs.

International experience suggests that mandates can have a major impact on vaccination rates over time. A month after France introduced proof of vaccination policies for travel, shopping, dining, and other recreational activities, nearly 72% of the population had received a first COVID-19 vaccine, up from 64% before the announcement. Meanwhile, the number of new SARS-CoV-2 infections in France dropped from 23 000 per day the week of August 9 to 15 911 as of September 2.

Mixed results from lotteries

Canadian provinces have also seen modest success from offering financial incentives for getting vaccinated.

Manitoba was the first province to offer a lottery incentive with nearly $2 million in cash prizes, including 10 scholarships of $25 000 for eligible teens. The lottery was open to all Manitobans who received a first COVID-19 shot by August 2 and a second shot by September 6.

Manitoba saw an increase of "several...

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