When news broke in late-November that more than half of New York City firefighters said they would not get the COVID-19 vaccine, it seemed to drive home the deep reluctance many Americans have about the vaccine. The firefighters' sentiments were echoed just a week later, when an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey found roughly half of Americans were wither not sure if they would get the vaccine, or flat-out said they would not.
Now that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has greenlighted administration of the vaccine, these findings highlight the need to educate skeptical Americans about the safety of the treatments, and the importance of having widespread vaccination among the U.S. population.
"When you have 75 percent-to-80 percent of the people vaccinated, you have an umbrella of protection over the community, that the level of community spread will be really, really very low. The virus will not have any place to go," Dr. Anthong Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said in an early-December press appearance with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. However, "if 50 percent of the people get vaccinated, then we don't have that umbrella of immunity over us."
Pharmacists, of course, have a leading role in providing critical information to the U.S. public. Americans consistently rank pharmacists at the top of "most trusted professions," and rely on their pharmacists for honest, accurate information about a wide range of health topics. With pharmacists poised to administer the COVID-19 vaccine, they will be in high-demand as sources of accurate information.
Although pharmacists will receive more extensive information about each approved vaccine from their state pharmacy board and other government sources, the Centers for Disease Control has provided some interim facts that can be used to help address patients' concerns about safety and efficacy. A few of these points include:
Despite the public's apparent skepticism about the COVID-19 vaccine, experts are optimistic that opinions will change once vaccinations are underway. Notable, former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barak Obama have volunteered to publicly receive their vaccinations as a way to build public confidence in the vaccine's safety. "If Anthony Fauci tells me this vaccine is safe, and can immunize you from getting COVID, absolutely, I'm going to take it," former-President Obama said in an interview.