Wednesday, August 5, 2020

A COVID-19 vaccine won’t help if people don’t trust it

A recent poll found that one-third of Americans would not try to get a coronavirus vaccination if a vaccine became available. | AFP-JIJI

by Therese Raphael, Bloomberg

With any luck, one of the handful of promising COVID-19 vaccines currently going through human trials will meet with regulatory approval, maybe even in time for winter. One thing worrying public health officials, though, is what happens if a significant number of people don’t want to be vaccinated.

Vaccines are responsible for saving millions of lives every year, and yet there has always been a small but hardcore contingent of anti-vaxxers that rejects the science or buys into conspiracy theories about immunizations. Unfortunately, their ranks are growing during the current crisis. National health authorities, along with the World Health Organization, are engaged in a furious game of whack-a-mole as they try to knock down the conspiracy theories and correct misinformation.

Countering the anti-vaxxers is important work, but it’s only part of the picture. The bigger danger is a broader vaccine hesitancy: What if rational people who get their flu shots and vaccinate their children, and who are eager to be part of the solution to this pandemic, have worries that public health authorities and governments don’t address?

The World Health Organization lists vaccine hesitancy as one of its top 10 global health threats. One in six U.K. respondents to a June YouGov survey said they definitely or probably would not get vaccinated. A CNN poll in May showed a third of Americans would not try to get a vaccine if it existed. Like everything else in the U.S., opinion on a vaccine varies along party lines, with 81% of Democrats and only 51% of Republicans keen to get vaccinated.  Read more >>