Doctor: Public needs to be on board with COVID-19 vaccine to defeat pandemic
As pharmaceutical companies around the world develop COVID-19 vaccines, there are many people who are nervous about potential side effects.
New data shows that the nervousness is based on the lack of knowledge about the vaccine. But an infection disease expert at Rutgers University says that people need to get over that fear.
Rutgers School of Public Health Dean Dr. Perry Halkitis says that if the pandemic is to end, and the old way of life is to resume, the public-at-large must take the COVID-19 vaccine. He says that every vaccine has side effects.
“The flu vaccine has some side effects. Shingrix vaccine for shingles has side effects. Everyone's body reacts differently,” Halkitis says.
Experts say that the COVID-19 vaccine’s side effects are relatively mild. People who've taken part in the trials say they've dealt with headaches, fatigue and muscle aches for a day and then they are gone.
Just hearing that the vaccine is 95% effective should help. And Halkitis says that will improve.
“What will happen is one, this vaccine gets up. Generations of vaccine will evolve, which will make that percentage even higher than 95,” Halkitis says.
But some people remain skeptical. According to a recent Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, between 36-37% of those questioned say they will not get the vaccine.
Halkitis says that he is not surprised by this statistic considering how politicized the vaccine has become, and the fact that some people deny that the pandemic is as bad as it is. He suggests getting community leaders and even celebrities onboard, engage local health departments and educate people on such things as the side effects and the fact that Pfizer’s vaccine is two injections.
“There has to be extremely close communication with the patient between the first and second vaccinations. Send reminders, text messages,” Halkitis says.
He says that leaders need to engender trust and communication to get doubters to believe in the vaccine.