SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- Maritime physicians are urging people to take the first COVID-19 shot they are eligible to receive, hoping transparency and context will reduce any vaccine hesitancy.

“In addition to a dose of vaccine, people need a dose of confidence,” says Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s Deputy Chief Public Health officer. “Canadians can feel assured that the COVID-19 vaccine dose they have received or will soon receive is safe and highly effective.”

Medical professionals are addressing concerns and questions with changing recommendations regarding the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

A poll conducted by marketing research firm Leger in partnership with the Canadian Press – suggests 80 per cent of Canadians intend to get vaccinated - up significantly from 63-per-cent last October. The same survey suggests 78 per cent of Atlantic Canadians intend to get their shots, while 15 per cent say no. That’s the highest of the six regions polled in the survey. Across the country, 12 per cent say they won’t get vaccinated with seven per cent of Atlantic Canadians responding ‘I don’t know.’ 

On Friday, the Vitalité Health Network was promoting unfilled appointment slots for vaccination clinics happening in the Moncton and Edmundston regions late next week.

In New Brunswick, over 175,000 vaccinations have been given in the province since April 3. Public health officials says a severe adverse reaction has been reported in 10 people.

The province’s Department of Health says any risk in getting a vaccine is far outweighed by COVID-19.

“By comparison, COVID-19 has killed more than 23,000 Canadians so far,” the department says in a statement. “About one in 100 Canadians who get COVID-19 end up needing intensive care, and one in five Canadians who are hospitalized with COVID-19 develop blood clots

The Department of Health says it can’t give more information about the specific adverse reactions, or what vaccines were involved, due to concerns about patient privacy.

New Brunswick interim Liberal leader says more information should be given about those adverse reactions to answer any lingering questions. Roger Melanson, who is waiting for his second vaccine dose, says information is key to building vaccine confidence.

“To be left in the dark is probably worse because I’m sure if the explanation is given, New Brunswickers (and) people will understand,” says Melanson.