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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 102, Issue 3, pp 200–203 | Cite as

Canadian Newspaper Coverage of the A/H1N1 Vaccine Program

  • Christen M. Rachul
  • Nola M. Ries
  • Timothy CaulfieldEmail author
Quantitative Research
  • 1 Downloads

Abstract

Objectives

The A/H1N1 mass vaccination program in Canada garnered considerable attention from the media, including extensive newspaper coverage. Media reports have been shown to influence the public’s health care decisions, including vaccination choices. We analyzed Canadian newspapers’ portrayal of the A/H1N1 vaccine including mention of risks and benefits of the vaccine and whether the article supported, questioned or was neutral about the vaccine.

Methods

We compiled a data set of Canadian newspaper articles (N=234) and conducted a frequency content analysis to examine discussion and/or mention of evidence concerning vaccination, risks of the A/H1N1 virus and the vaccine, and tone of article in regards to the vaccination program in Canada.

Results

Reasons for getting vaccinated appeared in 71.8% of the articles, whereas only 18.4% provided reasons against getting vaccinated. Discussion of evidence to support claims for or against getting vaccinated appeared in only 27.8% and 6.8% of the articles, respectively. Risks associated with contracting the A/H1N1 virus were discussed in 49.6% of the articles and risks of the A/H1N1 vaccine were discussed in 12.4% of the articles.

Conclusion

Newspaper coverage in Canada was largely supportive of the A/H1N1 mass vaccination program. However, serious risks associated with contracting the A/H1N1 virus were also frequently discussed in the print media. The news articles rarely presented direct evidence to support statements that the vaccine was safe, effective and properly tested. Known risks (such as potential allergic reactions and flu-like side effects) of the vaccine were rarely reported. The relationship between media portrayals and vaccine uptake warrants further research.

Key words

Newspapers influenza vaccines Canada 

Résumé

Objectifs

Le programme de vaccination de masse contre le virus A/H1N1 au Canada a fait l’objet d’une couverture médiatique considérable, y compris dans les journaux. Il est démontré que ces reportages influencent les décisions du public à l’égard de la santé, notamment les choix concernant la vaccination. Nous avons analysé la représentation du vaccin anti-A/H1N1 dans les journaux canadiens, à savoir: la mention des risques et des avantages du vaccin et si l’article était pour ou contre le vaccin ou s’il était neutre à ce sujet.

Méthode

Nous avons compilé un jeu de données composé d’articles de journaux canadiens (N=234) et effectué une analyse de fréquence de contenu pour examiner la discussion et/ou la mention des preuves liées à la vaccination, les risques du virus A/H1N1 et du vaccin, et le ton de l’article à l’égard du programme de vaccination au Canada.

Résultats

Les raisons de se faire vacciner étaient citées dans 71,8 % des articles, tandis que seulement 18,4 % citaient des raisons de ne pas se faire vacciner. Une discussion des preuves à l’appui des allégations pour ou contre le vaccin ne figurait que dans 27,8 % et dans 6,8 % des articles, respectivement. Les risques associés au virus A/H1N1 étaient discutés dans 49,6 % des articles, et les risques du vaccin étaient discutés dans 12,4 % des articles.

Conclusion

Les journaux canadiens étaient en grande partie favorables au programme de vaccination de masse contre le virus A/H1N1. Les risques graves associés au virus étaient fréquemment cités dans la presse écrite. Les articles de fond ont cependant rarement présenté des preuves directes à l’appui des déclarations selon lesquelles le vaccin était sûr, efficace et dûment testé. Les risques connus du vaccin (comme les réactions allergiques possibles et les effets secondaires pseudo-grippaux) ont rarement été mentionnés. Le lien entre la représentation du programme dans les médias et l’acceptation du vaccin devrait faire l’objet d’une étude plus poussée.

Mots clés

journaux vaccins antigrippaux Canada 

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christen M. Rachul
    • 1
  • Nola M. Ries
    • 1
    • 2
  • Timothy Caulfield
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Health Law InstituteUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of LawUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada
  3. 3.Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical ResearchUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  4. 4.Faculty of Law and School of Public HealthUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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