The US Food and Drug Administration granted an emergency authorization on Friday, allowing Pfizer to begin distributing the vaccine. With initial does mostly going to the nation’s health-care workers and residents of long-term-care facilities, totaling roughly 24 million people combined.
With the first COVID-19 vaccine in the US being cleared by federal regulators, health authorities and researchers face the daunting task of persuading millions of people to take the shot.
Surveys have shown that a large percentage of people in the US are reluctant, skeptical or even opposed to taking a vaccine. Concerns rage from safety to mistrust of drug makers and the government. Some would prefer to wait to see if there are major problems or side effects.
Persuading these people is crucial to stopping the spread of the virus. A vaccine’s effectiveness depends not just on how well it works in individuals, but also on how widely spread it is.
“The idea that everyone is just going to take it is naive, and so is the idea that we can come up with a messaging campaign and everyone will go along with it,” said Dr. Emily Brunson, a medical anthropologist at Texas State University who studies vaccine hesitancy. “It’s really going to be a lot of work and a lot of effort for the next 12 months to be able to get people vaccinated.”
“If you’re not part of the health-care system and you see health-care workers taking it, you think, ‘Well, maybe they know something,’” said Bruce Gellin, president of global immunization at Sabin Vaccine Institute, which promotes vaccine adoption and trains immunization professionals. “Health-care workers are often sought, whether they’re doctors, nurses, pharmacists, people in the system, for their advice about health. This is one where clearly that’s going to happen because everyone knows they’re first in line.”
By Kristofel Abella
Ka Lā News staff writer