(HealthDay) – Getting an emerging COVID-19 vaccine to a skeptical public could be difficult.
However, a new poll found that vaccine intake could increase if the shot is promoted by medical experts rather than politicians, and if it has been proven safe and effective through a rigorous approval process.
A vaccine that has been shown to be highly effective in clinical trials with lasting protection and rare serious side effects will enjoy greater public respect, especially when supported by large public health organizations, researchers found.
There aren’t that many buyers for a vaccine that meets the minimum standards of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is approved under emergency protocols, and is more likely to be approved by politicians than medical experts, according to results published on JAMA Network Open on October 20 .
These results show that efforts to develop and promote a COVID-19 vaccine need to be depoliticized, said lead researcher Douglas Kriner, professor of government at Cornell University.
“The introduction of the vaccine and public health efforts to convey to people the importance of doing this, that it is safe, effective and encouraging people to vaccinate should really be left to the health professionals”, said Kriner.
A confirmation from a U.S. presidential candidate would do little to promote the vaccine, while a nod from the World Health Organization or the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would go a long way, the survey found.
“It’s hard to imagine that politicians don’t want to go into it, just turn to the medical experts, but the more they get involved, the more problems could arise,” said Kriner.
In addition, the speed at which the vaccine is being developed and tested could hamper efforts to achieve wide adoption, noted Dr. William Schaffner, professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.
“The Operation Warp Speed name is working against us,” he said. “The average person who hears this thinks we are cutting corners and they don’t want anything to do with it.”
An approved COVID-19 shot is still months away, but the CDC is already preparing for the widespread rollout of vaccines that receive FDA approval.
Researchers estimate that at least 70% of adults in an area must be taking a COVID-19 vaccine to achieve herd immunity.
So far, however, there have been big differences in surveys of whether people plan to get COVID ingestion when one becomes available.
Kriner and his team decided to take a closer look at the specific factors that influence public acceptance.
They surveyed nearly 2,000 adults in the US and asked about a number of factors that could potentially affect the vaccine’s uptake – effectiveness, length of protection, risk of side effects, type of approval, location of the vaccine’s development, and the endorsements that make it big Personalities and institutions.
Effectiveness will be the most important factor in promoting the vaccine, according to researchers.
The results of the survey show that people are most motivated to take a vaccine that is 70% to 90% effective as opposed to a vaccine that is only 50% effective.
“One thing that might bother us here is that the 50% effectiveness is the FDA’s minimum threshold and willingness to take the vaccine was relatively low at that level,” said Kriner.
The public will also be less inclined to accept a COVID vaccine approved for emergency use under an FDA approval, shortening the agency’s usual approval process, the survey said.
“It is justified that we are spending an incredible number of resources increasing the speed with which we deliver a vaccine, but at the same time we do not have to compromise on safety,” said Dr. Douglas Opel, director of clinical ethics at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. He co-wrote an editorial that accompanied the survey results.
“This process of delivering a vaccine through emergency approval is at this point of speed and safety, and this study found that having a vaccine available through this accelerated mechanism would negatively affect willingness to accept it, which was worrying,” said Opel.
Recommendations from politicians were not particularly important to the respondents.
“The slightest support or willingness to be vaccinated is that the vaccine has been approved and recommended by President Trump,” said Kriner. “A confirmation from Vice President Biden doesn’t do much better.”
Study respondents were also much less willing to receive a vaccine developed in China than one developed in the US or the UK.
Opel said the detailed nature of this survey will be “really helpful” in building confidence and uptake of the vaccine after its launch.
Every COVID vaccine is best promoted by primary care physicians, backed by transparent and compelling data and endorsements from respected medical directors and institutions, Schaffner said.
People receive routine vaccinations based on their doctor’s strong recommendation over all other factors, he noted.
“I would build on this and on the enormous trust that still exists between the individual doctor and his patient,” said Schaffner.
However, doctors and officials must also communicate that a vaccine will not be the panacea that will allow anyone to get back to their pre-COVID life, he added.
“If it’s 70% effective, which would be pretty good, it means that out of 10 people vaccinated, seven will be protected, but three – and we don’t know who those three are – likely have no or very little protection,” said Conductor. “Just because you get vaccinated doesn’t mean you can throw your mask away. You have to keep masking, social distancing, and avoiding large groups for long periods of time.”
The public doesn’t seem to fully understand that.
“Whenever I mention that, everyone gets grumpy because they think that as soon as I have this needle in my arm, I’ll be wearing armor,” said Schaffner. “I can go back out there and do whatever I want. I can go back to normal. Wrong. We didn’t prepare the public for it.”
Poll: Americans are now more likely to get a COVID-19 vaccine
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about COVID-19.
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Quote: What Will Convince Americans to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine? (2020, October 20) Retrieved October 20, 2020 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-10-convince-americans-covid-vaccine.html
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