This is a summary, written by members of the CITF Secretariat, of:

Sujane Kandasamy, Baanu Manoharan, Zainab Khan, Rosain Stennett, Dipika Desai, Rochelle Nocos, Gita Wahi, Davina Banner, Russell J de Souza, Scott Lear, Sonia S Anand. Perceptions of COVID-19 risk, vaccine access, and confidence: a qualitative analysis of South Asians in Canada. medRxiv 2022.10.21.22281321; doi:

The results and/or conclusions contained in the research do not necessarily reflect the views of all CITF members.

A preprint, not yet peer-reviewed, from a CITF-funded study led by Dr. Sonia Anand (McMaster University) focused on the South Asian community to demonstrate that understanding factors such as community dynamics, language, and cultural context can help build vaccine confidence and acceptance among diverse population groups. Developing tailored outreach strategies can guide approaches to serve different communities for current and future pandemics.

Key findings:

  • Whether members of the South Asian community accessed, or had confidence in, COVID-19 vaccines were impacted by:
    • individual risk perceptions, based on the socio-economic status and age group;
    • sources of trusted information (ethnic and non-ethnic). Participants described the importance of engaging with the community though local news stations, ethnic language media, South Asian networks (i.e., Connect FM, Omni, Sher-E-Punjab), and social media to target barriers in vaccine education. Several participants also emphasized the importance of translation and representation after observing language was a consistent barrier to vaccine provision in terms of registration and education;
    • physical, mental, emotional and financial elements of the pandemic on individuals, families, and society;
    • experiences with COVID-19 mandates and policies (including temporal and generational differences): participants questioned inconsistent COVID-19 mandates and policies across different settings and media outlets. A few participants discussed generational differences in the South Asian community’s attitudes toward COVID-19 stay-at-home policies and vaccine mandates.
  • Approaches that considered community-specific sensitivities and tailored the outreach accordingly (in terms of language and cultural context) were successful in increasing vaccine acceptance.
  • Public health programs must engage with local influencers and overcome historical sources of mistrust/experiences and cultural-linguistic needs.
  • Fostering community partnerships is key to guiding and making recommendations on how to most effectively engage community members (including avenues for communication such as social media platforms and traditional media).
  • Key pieces of information included in vaccine outreach must address individual risk perceptions and acknowledge the broader impacts of pandemic decision-making (e.g., mandates) in order to build trust.

25 participants (15 from ON and 10 from BC) were interviewed between July 8, 2021, and January 30, 2022. Participants included South Asian community members, South  Asian advocacy group leaders, and public health staff who worked predominantly with the South Asian community. The ages of the community members ranged from 19- to 69-years-old.