Vaccine Vacillation: Confidence in AstraZeneca jumps amid increased eligibility; trust in Johnson & Johnson tumbles

by Angus Reid | April 25, 2021 9:30 pm

Hesitancy remains highest in Alberta where 28 per cent say they will not be vaccinated or remain unsure

April 26, 2021 – An extraordinary period in which Xennials and Generation-Xers became eligible for AstraZeneca doses in several provinces (and in turn answered the call while simultaneously reviving 80’s movies memes on social media[1]) has not only increased Canada’s vaccination rate, but also appears to have heightened comfort in the AZ vaccine itself.

New data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds this expansion in eligibility, along with assurances[2] from medical professionals that the benefits of the vaccine well outweigh the risks, has had a positive impact on public opinion of the vaccine.

Among Canadians willing but yet to be vaccinated, 52 per cent now say that they are comfortable receiving AstraZeneca. This represents an 11-point increase in comfort levels in just two weeks.

The bad news for public health officials and herd immunity pursuers is that after a pause[3] of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the United States due to similar rare side effects, comfort levels with that vaccine brand have dipped 16 points. Canada is expected to begin to offer the J&J vaccine in the coming weeks[4].

More Key Findings:


About ARI

The Angus Reid Institute (ARI) was founded in October 2014 by pollster and sociologist, Dr. Angus Reid. ARI is a national, not-for-profit, non-partisan public opinion research foundation established to advance education by commissioning, conducting and disseminating to the public accessible and impartial statistical data, research and policy analysis on economics, political science, philanthropy, public administration, domestic and international affairs and other socio-economic issues of importance to Canada and its world.



Part One: Willingness to be vaccinated continues to grow

Part Two: Changing level of comfort with particular vaccines


Part One: Willingness to be vaccinated continues to grow

As of April 23, just over 27 per cent of Canadians have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The bulk of the doses have been from Pfizer (62%), with Moderna (21%) and AstraZeneca (17%) representing a much smaller portion of the vaccine portfolio. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is expected to be delivered and added to the mix in the coming days:

Willingness to be vaccinated continues to increase. Overall, 41 per cent of Canadians now say they would like to be vaccinated as soon as possible, along with the 28 per cent who say they have received one dose and the 2 per cent who say they have been fully vaccinated. Note, the current data in Canada matches these proportions of vaccinated Canadians near-identically[5]. Another 12 per cent of Canadians are willing to be vaccinated but are in no rush:

The number of Canadians now willing to be vaccinated as soon as possible combined with those who have already received a dose, has increased to 71 per cent:

*Includes both those who want vaccine immediately and those who have already had at least one dose

Albertans continue to be most hesitant

While it is currently not an issue, given that Canada’s current supply of vaccines is nowhere near the level demanded, it is nonetheless worth considering the proportion of the population unwilling to be vaccinated.

In Alberta, 28 per cent of residents say they are either unwilling or unsure at this point – the highest level in the country. One-in-five also hold these views in Saskatchewan (22%) and Manitoba (20%):

Men under the age of 55 are most likely to say that they are unwilling to be vaccinated or uncommitted, with men over the age of 55 twice as likely to reject or question a vaccination than women the same age:

Past Conservative Party voters are five times as likely as past Liberal voters to voice hesitancy, and more than twice as likely as past NDP or Bloc Quebecois voters as well:

Part Two: Changing level of comfort with particular vaccines

The AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have been the source of concern, debate, and speculation over recent weeks. Both vaccines have reportedly caused an extremely rare blood clotting disorder, which has led countries across the globe to limit, delay or stop delivery of them entirely[6].

Canada initially paused eligibility of the AstraZeneca vaccine for individuals younger than 55 years of age. That guidance has since been changed and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization now says individuals 30 years of age and older[7] should be offered the vaccine. It is up to provinces to decide how they offer and administer each vaccine. Heath Canada also reiterated its support[8] for use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after it was paused[9] and then resumed in the United States.

Canadians see Moderna and Pfizer as A-OK, not so much for AZ and J&J

The controversy around the AZ and J&J vaccines has evidently had a major influence on Canadians’ comfort with each. While nine-in-ten unvaccinated but willing Canadians say they are comfortable receiving either Pfizer or Moderna, just half say this of AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson:

Confidence in AstraZeneca way up, way down for J&J

Since the Angus Reid Institute initially asked this question in early April, guidance from public health officials has suggested that the AstraZeneca vaccine be made available to more Canadians with a warning about the small associated risk. The vaccine is now available to those 40 years of age and older in a number of provinces and the percentage of Canadians saying they would be comfortable receiving it has increased 11 percentage points in the past two weeks. The news about Johnson & Johnson south of the border appears to have increased concern with that vaccine, however:

Demographic look at resistant groups

Discomfort with AstraZeneca is at a level of at least 37 per cent in all regions canvassed, though it rises to 47 per cent in Quebec and 44 per cent in Ontario:

*Small sample size, interpret with caution

Half of women willing to receive a vaccine say they would be uncomfortable if the only option were AstraZeneca. Indeed, reports of side effects to COVID-19 vaccines, such as blood clots and allergic reactions, have been higher among women[10] than men, while in terms of age demographics, Canadians over 55 show the highest levels of discomfort related to this vaccine.

Resistance to Johnson & Johnson is 10 points lower overall compared to AstraZeneca, at 34 per cent, and this is reflected with fewer Canadians objecting to it in every region of the country.

*Small sample size, interpret with caution

Again, the same age and gender trends are noted for Johnson & Johnson as for AstraZeneca. Younger Canadians are twice as likely to be comfortable than uncomfortable for this type of jab:

Only one-third would take a vaccine they’re uncomfortable with

Those that said they were uncomfortable with any vaccine were asked what they would do if they were offered that brand. Overall, 34 per cent say they would not take it while 37 per cent say they would. Notably, men are much more comfortable taking a dose that would not be their first choice:

Breaking this down further, those who are uncomfortable or unsure about AstraZeneca or Johnson and Johnson specifically are equally as likely to say they would reject it. Those who say they are uncomfortable with both options, however, show an elevated level of resistance:

Notably, those who are uncomfortable with each and say they would reject it are much more likely to be female than male.

For detailed results by age, gender, region, education, and other demographics, click here.[11]

To read the full report, including detailed tables and methodology, click here.[12]

To read the questionnaire, click here.[13]

Image – Daniel Schludi/Unsplash


Shachi Kurl, President: 604.908.1693[14] @shachikurl

Dave Korzinski, Research Director: 250.899.0821[15]

  1. while simultaneously reviving 80’s movies memes on social media:
  2. assurances:
  3. a pause:
  4. coming weeks:
  5. near-identically:
  6. limit, delay or stop delivery of them entirely:,-By%20Reuters%20Staff&text=(Reuters)%20%2D%20Some%20countries%20are,links%20to%20rare%20blood%20clots.
  7. 30 years of age and older:
  8. reiterated its support:
  9. paused:
  10. higher among women:
  11. click here.:
  12. click here.:
  13. click here.:

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