Medical Economies, December 2020
The news that several viable COVID-19 vaccines will soon be available is positive news.But the bad news is that significant percentages of people may have reservations about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.Groups that are at a disproportionately higher risk of greater morbidity and mortality from COVID-19, also are potentially even more likely to indicate a willingness to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Such findings imply that once a vaccine is available to people, some will choose either to delay getting it or decline to receive it altogether. Depending on how great these numbers become, it may negatively impact our collective ability to develop herd immunity to the illness and lessen its incidence in certain communities. This would mean additional lives lost and more time to recover socially, educationally, and economically from the devastating effects of the pandemic.It also would exacerbate existing health care disparities.
What influences people to be hesitant about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine appears to be a complex issue. A recent study found several different factors — gender, race/ethnicity, concerns about vaccine safety and efficacy, and the source for vaccine endorsements, e.g. public health experts versus politicians — may influence people’s likelihood of getting a COVID-19 vaccine. But the most important underlying cause is the lack of trust people have that a vaccine will do what it is supposed to do and will not result in any adverse health impacts for themselves or their children. The importance of trust in a vaccine is nothing new. Around the world, significant numbers of individuals remain less trusting in the safety and efficacy of vaccines generally.
One important potential source for people gaining greater trust in the COVID-19 vaccine is the doctor, specifically a patient’s primary care doctor, or a child’s pediatrician. There is plenty of evidence that doctors are an important source of trust for all sorts of medical advice. This includes advice to patients about receiving different types of vaccines, either for themselves or family members. But many of us do not have these trusting, ongoing relationships with doctors.