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A nurse clinician prepares a syringe with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Regina General Hospital, in Regina, on Dec. 15, 2020.Michael Bell/The Canadian Press

A new poll says most Canadians will take the COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to them.

The poll, conducted by Nanos Research and commissioned for The Globe and Mail, found that 68 per cent of Canadians surveyed will definitely take the vaccine, while 19 per cent said they will probably get the shot.

Canadians over 55 were more likely to say they will definitely take the vaccine, at 80 per cent, compared with those who are 18 to 34, at 58 per cent.

The COVID-19 vaccine and its rollout across the country are the current preoccupations of policy makers who have been criticized for the speed of distribution amid soaring case numbers and a rising death toll. Public-health experts see a vaccine as a critical tool in the fight against the coronavirus, its prolonged effect on the health of Canadians and its devastation to the economy, including plunging the country into a recession.

Canadians are also five times more likely to say Canada is doing a very good job, compared with a very poor job, at accessing a supply of COVID-19 vaccines, the poll found.

Nik Nanos, the founder and chief data scientist of Nanos Research, said Monday that the results speak to Canadians generally thinking the country is doing a good or very good job, but he said that view is soft.

“They’re waiting to see what happens,” he said. “Apart from the beginning of the beginning, this is probably the second most important and critical juncture because this is about really fighting the pandemic with vaccines. It is too early for Canadians to tell how good or poorly a job that Canada is doing right now.”

Mr. Nanos said it is significant that the majority of Canadians say they will take the vaccine, but the next challenge is the degree of confidence that exists over the effectiveness of the vaccine. A little more than one in five Canadians have outright confidence that the COVID-19 vaccine will work.

“Politicians and public-health officials have to continue to encourage as many people as possible to take the vaccine, but to communicate that the vaccine will work and that it will have an impact,” he said.

The poll was conducted through land and cellphone lines and an online random survey of 1,048 Canadians, 18 or older, between Dec. 27 and Dec. 30. Nanos says the margin of error for this survey is plus or minus three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

In other poll findings, six in 10 Canadians agreed (29 per cent) or somewhat agreed (34 per cent) that it should be mandatory for Canadians to take a COVID-19 vaccine. Meanwhile, 21 per cent disagreed and 14 per cent somewhat disagreed.

Mr. Nanos noted that just as many people in the Prairie provinces want to see it made mandatory as do not, with 49.5 per cent of respondents agreeing or somewhat agreeing, and 47.3 per cent disagreeing or somewhat disagreeing.

Canadians who are older than 55 are more likely to want to see the vaccine be compulsory compared with Canadians who are younger, he added, noting there is a generational divide.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu has said the COVID-19 vaccine will not be mandatory in Canada.

Dr. Kanna Vela has been treating COVID-19 patients in emergency departments in Ajax and Scarborough, Ontario for nearly 10 months. She lived apart from her family at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Receiving her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in late December has given Dr. Vela some hope for the months ahead as hospitals struggle to care for the rise in COVID-19 cases.

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