Speed of coronavirus vaccine development leaves some people hesitant

By | July 26, 2020

Many people are hesitant about the prospect of taking a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus, and the speed of development is one of the major reasons.

“I’m a bit unsure. I’d like to, but I would not want a vaccine that is rushed to market,” said Terrell M., a Democrat from Texas. He would at least want it to be a year before he would feel comfortable getting the vaccine.

Although anti-vaccine sentiments have been on the rise, a majority of people still support vaccines. However, only around half of the American public would be open to getting the coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available, an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs poll shows.

“I would not take a vaccine that has been rushed into existence to satisfy the political agenda,” said Sharlotte White, a Republican from Georgia. She would want it “thoroughly tested and researched” for at least five years.

Three early vaccine candidates have shown promise this week as pharmaceutical companies and governments race to bring vaccines to market.

The Health and Human Services Department and the Defense Department signed a deal with Pfizer and BioNTech to give them $ 1.95 billion for 100 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine once it is proven to be safe and effective.

But many people will not be willing to take the vaccine as soon as it’s available.

“My honest opinion is that I might wait for the second round to see how people react,” Clay Robinson, a 20-year-old Republican from Arizona, told the Washington Examiner.

Republicans are three times more likely to say they won’t get the vaccine compared to Democrats, a Morning Consult poll found.

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“I would get it because if it works, it would allow for a return to normal life (or at least a semblance of normal life),” said Alexandra McCormick, a 17-year-old left-leaning independent from New Jersey.

The poll also found that Democrats were more likely to say the coronavirus is a “severe health risk” compared to Republicans.

A “complete shutdown 4-6 weeks” would be the best way to combat the virus while a vaccine is being made, Terrell M. said in a direct message on Twitter. “We would need to curb the virus, while also buying time for science to progress thru vaccine phases. We reopened too quickly from the first lockdown, and we are suffering from that today.”

“I can tell you I have been hospitalized once during this whole thing for a heart attack. My husband and family were denied any access to me while I was going through serious testing,” White said. She believes there is no way to combat the virus at this point.

Some doctors believe the only way for life to go back to it was before the pandemic would be for a vaccine to be developed. There is a race to develop a vaccine from countries all around the world with 21 “vaccine candidates” already in play.

Not everyone agrees that the public is being skeptical about a coronavirus vaccine.

The general public does not have any information about how safe or effective a vaccine would be yet, Briana Mezuk, a co-director of the Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health, told the Washington Examiner in an email.

“I think the FDA and NIH has a tremendous opportunity right now to educate the public about the process of by which vaccines (and medications more generally) get approved and how post-approval drug safety monitoring works (and can potentially be enhanced for the COVID vaccine),” said Mezuk. “We have an important ‘teachable moment’ to help people understand how the FDA evaluates medications for effectiveness, for safety, for counterindications, for drug-drug interactions, etc. This doesn’t just matter for the COVID vaccine — it matters for every medication.”

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There are multiple reasons why some are wary of a coronavirus vaccine, said Joseph Pierre, the acting chief of community care systems at the VA West Los Angeles Healthcare Center.

There is misinformation about vaccines in general and mistrust of organizations who should be authoritative sources of information on the issue, Pierre said. “This combination of fear and uncertainty explains why some people may reject the dire warnings, and the inconsistent information, from the likes of the CDC in favor of misinformation that amounts to denial (e.g. ‘COVID-19 isn’t any worse than the seasonal flu’) as a way to allay their fear.”

“[P]eople aren’t getting consistent and unified messaging from our political leaders to address fears and encourage a rational approach to the pandemic,” Pierre said.