Skip to main content

Vaccine hesitancy

There are many reasons why someone may be hesitant to receive COVID-19 vaccine. If you have questions, or require extra support, we can help. 

Afraid of needles?

If you're avoiding your COVID-19 vaccine doses because you have a fear of needles, you're not alone. Needle phobia is more common than you might think, and can lead to vaccine hesitancy. 

The Public Health team at Vancouver Coastal Health will make receiving your vaccination as easy and painless as possible, with options that might include a private appointment, the ability to lie down while receiving your shot, and other supportive measures. 

Send an email to getcovidimmunized@vch.ca to learn more. 

Your COVID-19 vaccine concerns answered 

CONCERN: There may be serious side effects that we don't know about yet.

Since the start of the COVID-19 immunization program in December 2020, Health Canada has been monitoring for any new and potential associations between vaccines and adverse events that warrant further investigation, and will make changes to our immunization program if needed. Serious adverse events following immunization are very rare. On the other hand, we know that COVID-19 is causing severe outcomes such as hospitalization, ICU admissions and even death, and many people who had COVID-19 disease are experiencing negative effects for many months after. 

CONCERN: Fully vaccinated people can still get COVID-19 and still transmit it to other people.

Regardless of what vaccine series you received, the vaccine is highly protective against severe illness, hospitalization and death. Recent data from the BC Centre of Disease Control showed unvaccinated people are 11 times more likely to contract COVID-19, 58 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 53 times more likely to die, than people who have received both doses of vaccine. Research also indicates people who are fully vaccinated are not sick for as long, and are not as likely to transmit the virus as people who are not vaccinated. 

CONCERN: I believe I'm allergic to the COVID-19 vaccines, and I don't want to risk an allergic reaction.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe for almost everyone, with very few exceptions. People who have had a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to any of the following should speak to their health-care provider about options, as they may be able to receive a different vaccine to ensure they can still be fully protected against COVID-19:

  • Polyethylene glycol (PEG), an ingredient in both the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines. PEG can be found in some cosmetics, skincare products, laxatives, some processed foods and drinks, and other products. There have been no reports of anaphylaxis from PEG in food or drink.

  • Polysorbate 80 which is in the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccines. It is also found in medical preparations (e.g., vitamin oils, tablets and anticancer agents) and cosmetics.

  • A previous dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or any part of the vaccine.

If you have different allergies you believe may rule you out for a vaccine, it's important to speak to a health-care provider to determine if there is indeed a risk. 

CONCERN: COVID-19 vaccines are too new, experimental, and I've read they could alter my DNA.

The technology behind the mRNA vaccines was developed more than 20 years ago, and viral vector vaccines are a well-established technology. To impact DNA, a substance must enter the nucleus, or control centre, of the cell, where DNA is stored. mRNA from vaccines is not able to enter the nucleus and therefore cannot impact DNA. Rather, the body uses mRNA as a template to create proteins that teach the body how to fight the COVID-19 virus. All of the different types of COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada have been proven safe and effective at preventing serious disease, hospitalizations and death. 

CONCERN: The vaccines are having a detrimental effect on women's fertility and on pregnancies.

Although pregnant women were not included in the clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines, some participants did get pregnant accidentally. There was no difference in the number of accidental pregnancies in the vaccinated groups than in the control groups (which did not receive vaccine). Canadian research soon to be published shows there is no increased risk of complications after being immunized. American research has similar results, with more than 90,000 pregnant women vaccinated against COVID-19 in the United States. Most importantly, we now have data that shows pregnant women are at higher risk of COVID-19, so we strongly encourage pregnant women to get vaccinated. 

Still have questions? We encourage you to: 

SOURCE: Vaccine hesitancy ( )
Page printed:

Copyright © Vancouver Coastal Health. All Rights Reserved.