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World Health Organization has identified vaccine hesitancy as a leading global health threat. Especially concerning is vaccine hesitancy among health care workers. Not only are they at increased risk of contracting the disease, but also transmitting it to their clients. The following are four reasons for vaccine hesitancy, and accurate information about it.
1. Safety and Efficacy Concerns. The FDA has issued Emergency Use Authorization of Moderna, Phizer, and the J & J vaccines due to the public health emergency. There is evidence that the vaccine data removes any concerns about how quickly they were developed and approved. For instance, concerns about the speed with which they were developed is based on a mistaken belief that mRNA technology is entire new. This technology has been in use for 30 years with tremendous advances being made in the last decade.
2. Preference for Physiological Immunity. Herd immunity can be achieved through vaccination or previous infections. Individuals who believe the seriousness of COVID-19 has been exaggerated think the risk of vaccination is greater than the risk of infection. Achieving herd immunity through infections will take significantly longer, and incur an immense cost to health care resources, as well as lives lost. Discuss with clinicians who have worked with COVID patients what these experiences were like.
3. Distrust of Government & Health Organizations. Media misinformation has spread public doubts about the disease spread, prevention, lethality and vaccine safety. Many members of the public have been exposed to conspiracy theories such as claims the virus was intentionally created by the government for political gain. This misinformation can be cleared up by simply talking about the vaccine with their doctor.
4. Autonomy and Personal Freedom. Rural Americans have a sense that their personal freedom is in jeopardy if they agree to the vaccine. The emotional lure (fear, anxiety) of anti-vaccine disinformation campaigns need to be exposed. Engage in a narrative that allows for changed opinion without losing face.
Delays in COVID-19 vaccinations in the general population prevent herd immunity and will result in increased illness and deaths.