‘Vaccine hesitancy’ could mean trouble for eventual COVID-19 vaccine

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDKY) – In 2019, ‘vaccine hesitancy’ was listed as a top ten global health threat by the World Health Organization.

Many worry those fears could mean trouble for an eventual COVID-19 vaccine here in the US and abroad.

While health experts say a COVID-19 vaccine is needed to return life to normal, a growing number of Americans are concerned about politicians prioritizing speed over safety.

“Unfortunately, there’s a lot of people out there mixing politics with science,” said Dr. Ryan Stanton. “A lot of people citing bad science to confirm beliefs rather than looking at the actual data.”

Dr. Stanton is an ER physician in Lexington and wants to help put concerns about vaccine efficacy to bed.

“Even though it’s hurried, that doesn’t mean it will get a free pass in terms of efficacy and safety testing,” Dr. Stanton said. “We’re not going to see something out there that is dangerous simply because we want something out in front of the public. The FDA is still testing these things they are still having to go through the approval process.”

Unfortunately, Anti-vaccination movements are nothing new.

“We’re seeing a resurgence in diseases we thought were all but eradicated,” Dr. Stanton said. “So, that, of course, increases risk to high-risk populations like young children and the elderly with diseases we thought were almost gone. I think we’ll see the same thing with COVID.”

While many are hopeful we’ll have a vaccine by the end of the year, Dr. Stanton thinks 2021 is a more realistic expectation.

“And the encouragement at that point is that everyone gets it,” Dr. Stanton said. Once I see the efficacy and safety profiles, if there’s decent research and numbers, me and my family members will be first in line when it’s available for our age groups.”

Recent polls have found as few as 50% of Americans are committed to receiving a COVID -19 vaccine at this point. Developing a plan to boost “vaccine confidence” is now a top priority according to leaders at the Centers for Disease Control.

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