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Communicating vaccines

Posted 12/3/20

In recent weeks, multiple companies have announced what an anxious world has been waiting to hear - that a highly effective vaccine against COVID-19 is on the horizon.

The news comes as infection …

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Communicating vaccines

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In recent weeks, multiple companies have announced what an anxious world has been waiting to hear - that a highly effective vaccine against COVID-19 is on the horizon.

The news comes as infection rates have surged once again throughout our country, breaking new records and showing no signs of ending anytime soon.

A safe, effective and widely available vaccine in the United States is our best hope of turning the tides in our fight against the worst pandemic in over a century. If the Food and Drug Administration decides to grant emergency use authorization to one or more of these vaccines - so far Pfizer and Moderna have applied for emergency authorization - then it could start being distributed this month to healthcare workers and other highly at-risk populations.

But the struggle against this virus will not end once a vaccine is approved for emergency use. We still must work together on a federal, state and local level to address logistical problems as well as hesitancy and mistrust among a significant portion of the population against being vaccinated.

Despite strong scientific evidence that these vaccines are safe and effective, there needs to be a widespread public relations effort to educate people and answer questions about the rigorous process that lead to these extraordinary developments.

According to a September study by the Pew Research Center, the share of Americans who say they would get vaccinated for the coronavirus has declined sharply since earlier this year.

The study found that, “About half of U.S. adults (51 percent) now say they would definitely or probably get a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 if it were available today; nearly as many (49 percent) say they definitely or probably would not get vaccinated at this time ... Intent to get a COVID-19 vaccine has fallen from 72% in May, a 21 percentage point drop.”

The study goes on to say that, “The share who would definitely get a coronavirus vaccine now stands at just 21 percent - half the share that said this four months ago.”

There's plenty of strong evidence that vaccines save lives. Thanks to vaccinations, polio has nearly been eradicated worldwide. Measles, which had been eliminated in the United States, is seeing a resurgence in some populations of unvaccinated people.

If recent outbreaks of measles and other diseases we thought were a thing of the past tells us anything, it's that we're losing the public health battle against disinformation. We need to bring together a coalition of community leaders, health experts and public figures to reassure a public which has lost trust in many American institutions.

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