Premier Brian Pallister says images of needles going into arms shown repeatedly on TV may be contributing to vaccine hesitancy in Manitoba.
Asked Thursday why he thinks reported inoculation rates are low in parts of southeastern Manitoba, the premier said the provincial government is promoting the need for people to get vaccinated.
"That’s why we’ve communicated though advertising, through written materials" how important that is, Pallister said during a news conference.
However, he added, one thing that might combat vaccine hesitancy would be for media to stop broadcasting shots of people getting shots.
"I’ll be blunt. Basically, every night now when I have the opportunity to watch a TV broadcast, I see a needle going into somebody’s arm. If you’d like to stop scaring people, stop showing the needle going into everybody’s arm and the blood coming out. It doesn’t really help," Pallister said.
"Maybe if we could just talk about the importance of vaccines rather than showing the needle going into somebody’s arm, we might do a little better on convincing some people to get the vaccine."
On April 8, the premier got his first shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine during a media event at the downtown Winnipeg convention centre. Video and still images of the moment the needle, wielded by chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin, plunged into the premier's left arm were among the day's top local news.
On Thursday, NDP Leader Wab Kinew disagreed with Pallister's stance, saying people need to see graphic images of the the vaccine being administered.
"I think it's important that we show the actual needle going into the arm to combat conspiracy theories that are out there," Kinew said in a scrum with reporters.
"One of the ones that I've seen circulating is that when you see politicians or celebrities or influencers getting the shot and you don't actually see the needle going in, then it's a conspiracy — they're not actually getting it," said Kinew.
"At this point, (we should do) anything we can do to counter misinformation."
Kinew received a COVID-19 vaccine dose Thursday, and invited media to attend.
"I have a lot of trust in media types who've been programming television news for many years over their entire careers," said Kinew, a former broadcast journalist. "I think they'll get it right."
The NDP leader said he felt "elated" after receiving his first COVID-19 vaccine dose.
"For me, it made it seem as though the end of the pandemic is a little bit closer," he said. "This is how it ends — this is how we end it — by getting the vaccine."
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.
Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.