A deep divide has emerged between vaccinated and non-vaccinated Canadians, with each holding starkly different views on everything from vaccine passports to forced lockdowns, a new polls says.
Polling from the Association for Canadian Studies (ASC) also points to a widespread hesitation among vaccinated people to be among non-vaccinated people in dining rooms, gyms, airplanes, and at work. A big majority of vaccinated Canadians said they should be entitled to “greater freedoms” than non-vaccinated people.
“As Canadians return to offices and classrooms and variants of concern represent a rising danger there will likely be greater tensions between vaccinated and unvaccinated,” said Jack Jedwab, president and CEO of ASC, in a statement.
Asked whether they would be comfortable going to work with unvaccinated co-workers, people in the poll who had been double vaccinated were split evenly — 40 per cent were comfortable and 41 per cent were uncomfortable.
However, 81 per cent of people who had not been vaccinated, and don’t intend to, said they would be comfortable. Six per cent were uncomfortable and 13 per cent said it wasn’t applicable.
Vaccination of workers has been a big issue in the U.S. this week, where there has been a major push from the private and public sectors to make vaccines mandatory for employees. In the U.S., 48.8 per cent of all Americans are fully vaccinated and 56.4 per cent have at least one dose.
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This week, tech giants like Facebook and Google have said they will require employees to be vaccinated before returning to work, Netflix is demanding shots for actors on its U.S. productions, and government workers in the state of California and New York City will need to have jabs.
On Thursday, the White House said every federal employee and onsite contractor will be asked to attest to their COVID-19 vaccination status, wear masks, physically distance, and undergo regular testing if they are not vaccinated.
Underlying a fierce opposition to the push for mandatory vaccines is a wariness from the non-vaccinated, which has caused a backslide in America’s pandemic response, according to some experts. On Twitter Thursday, Washington Post contributor Leana Wen called on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to clarify its new guidance, not because vaccinated people are the problem, but because, according to her, “we don’t trust the unvaccinated to voluntarily do the right thing.”
The Association for Canadian Studies survey reflects a similar divide in public opinion in Canada.
The ACS survey comes as the pace of vaccinations in Canada slows, due largely to a hesitancy among some people to endorse a vaccination technology that they perceive as too new in its development. According to public data, 50 per cent of all Canadians, or 19 million people, now have two doses of COVID-19 vaccine, while 69 per cent have received at least one dose.
Just 15 per cent of people with two doses of a vaccine agreed that it would be “unfair to place restrictions on people just because they choose not to be vaccinated,” the survey said. By comparison, 77 per cent said vaccinated people should be granted greater freedoms than unvaccinated people.
Meanwhile, among people who do not intend to be vaccinated, 87 per cent said it would be unfair to place restrictions on them, while just three per cent agreed that vaccinated people should enjoy special freedoms.
According to the ASC survey, 66 per cent of respondents who had received two doses of vaccine said they would not feel comfortable flying on an airplane with non-vaccinated people. They also said they would feel uncomfortable riding on a bus (60 per cent), going to the gym (57 per cent), going to a movie theatre (57 per cent), or eating in a dining room (54 per cent).
Among people with no intention to be vaccinated, 16 per cent still said they would feel uncomfortable going to a movie theatre “knowing that non-vaccinated persons may be present,” followed by going to the gym (13 per cent), flying on an airplane (12 per cent), riding a bus (12 per cent), or eating in a dining room (seven per cent).
Among people with two doses of a vaccine, 67 per cent said they would support a vaccine passport, while just seven per cent of people with no intention to be vaccinated said they would support it. Of people with double doses, 19 per cent said they would reject a vaccine passport, while 88 per cent of those with no intention to be vaccinated were opposed to the policy.
One the question of whether people would “care if non-vaccinated people get COVID-19,” respondents had similar opinions, with just 35 per cent of double vaccinated people saying they would care. Meanwhile, 49 per cent of people with no intention of getting vaccinated would care, followed by people who are not yet vaccinated but intend to be eventually (36 per cent), and people with just one vaccine dose (33 per cent).
The ASC polling results also indicate that social groups vaccinated versus non-vaccinated people tend to fall into, with very little overlap between the two.
Among respondents who said they have no intention of getting vaccinated, 93 per cent said they knew at least one other person who intended to do the same. Among those who already had two doses, meanwhile, 36 per cent said they did not know a single person refusing to get vaccinated.
The ASC survey was taken between July 16 and 18, polling 1,529 Canadians with an estimated margin of error of plus or minus 2.52 per cent, 19 times out of 20.