COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitance: Conversations with Primary Care


This webinar addresses a range of approaches primary care physicians can take in conversations with patients to reduce vaccine hesitancy and improve uptake.

Time and Date

Thursday, July 22, 2021 : 12:00 – 1:00 PM CST (1:00-2:00 EDT)


Canadian and international surveys indicate that vaccine hesitancy (VH) is a significant barrier to achieving immunization thresholds needed to control COVID-19. Although the number of vaccinations continues to rise, the decrease in VH is occurring at a much slower rate. In recent months, surveys have indicated that at least 18% of Canadians have some level of VH towards COVID-19 vaccines.

Primary Care Physicians’ (PCPs) long-term relationships with patients suggest their advice will carry weight that can ultimately help tip the balance towards vaccine confidence and uptake. Typically these conversations use a ‘deficit model’ of science communication approach, correcting misinformation with facts. Research suggests that this type of communication can often backfire when the source of hesitancy is cultural or social in nature, and can even make previously held hesitancy stronger.

The Vaccine Hesitancy Guide, developed by a research team at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy, aims to improve the capacity of clinicians and their teams to effectively communicate and promote vaccine uptake with a broad range of hesitant patients. This interactive tool supports PCPs by helping them 1) identify the origins of their patients’ VH, and 2) draw on successful counselling tactics of colleagues from across the country to communicate effectively.

Learning Objectives

1. Identify and explain a range of approaches primary care physicians might take to speaking with their vaccine-hesitant patients and improving uptake.

2. Describe a range of VH origins, or ‘types,’ as these have been encountered by primary care physicians across Canada.

3. Demonstrate familiarity with a novel resource – the Vaccine Hesitancy Guide – design to assist clinicians in addressing the origins of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy.

Speaker Biographies

Dr. Myles Leslie, PhD is the Associate Director of Research at the School of Public Policy in the University of Calgary. He is a qualitative researcher focused on understanding how policy and quality improvement interventions touch down on the clinical front lines. Dr. Leslie’s primary substantive interest is in primary care and the technology, policy, organizational, and clinical level reforms that are needed to support the delivery of high-quality care. He brings extensive international experience in ethnography to his research and an interest in the origins and challenges of trust in the creation and implementation of policy to his teaching. Dr. Leslie joined the University of Calgary faculty in the autumn of 2016, arriving from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD. He was trained at the Universities of Toronto and Leicester where he held Canada Graduate and Trudeau Foundation Scholarships, and a post-doctoral position in patient safety and quality.

Dr. Raad Fadaak has a background in anthropology of medicine, completing his Masters and PhD degrees at McGill University in 2019. His work previously focused on global health security and epidemic preparedness, as well as global health policy and international development. He now works as a Research Associate at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy, where he has been researching and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in Alberta.

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