Andrew Peterson, Charles Weijer, Emily A. Largent
Opinion Contributors, The Hill
The finish line in the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine is in sight. Yesterday, an independent advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) green lighted the use of Pfizer's vaccine, setting up an FDA decision that could result in Americans being vaccinated in the next several days. This decision follows announcements from Pfizer and Moderna that their vaccines for COVID-19 were more than 90 percent efficacious, fueling speculation that COVID-19 vaccines could be distributed in the United States by the end of the year. But as the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine concludes, a new one begins: the race to ensure that enough people are vaccinated to end the pandemic.
Many Americans are reluctant to seek COVID-19 vaccination. In a recent survey, just half of Americans indicated that they would likely get a COVID-19 vaccine. These individuals are concerned about the fast pace of COVID-19 vaccine development, poor communication about the science and perceived politicization of vaccine approval. There is also reluctance among America's front-line health care workers. A recent study found that 66 percent preferred to delay vaccination due to a lack of confidence in vaccine development and resistance to being "guinea pigs" when vaccines are distributed. These and other surveys suggest that there may not be sufficient COVID-19 vaccine uptake in the United States. At least 75 percent of Americans will need to be vaccinated to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Vaccine hesitancy - reluctance or refusal to take an available vaccine - has been identified by the World Health Organization as one of the top 10 threats to global health. But vaccine hesitancy for COVID-19 differs from the resistance sometimes seen to routine child immunization. Many people who express a lack of confidence in COVID-19 vaccines are still accepting of other vaccinations. For them, the speed and politicization of vaccine development are the sources of concern. Read more >>