COVID-19

What will it take for Americans to get a COVID vaccine?

Samantha Fields Dec 4, 2020
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Lisa Taylor receives a COVID-19 vaccination from RN Jose Muniz, as she takes part in a vaccine study at Research Centers of America on Aug. 07, 2020 in Hollywood, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images
COVID-19

What will it take for Americans to get a COVID vaccine?

Samantha Fields Dec 4, 2020
Heard on:
Lisa Taylor receives a COVID-19 vaccination from RN Jose Muniz, as she takes part in a vaccine study at Research Centers of America on Aug. 07, 2020 in Hollywood, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images
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A growing number of people are now saying they’ll get the COVID-19 vaccine when they can — 60% of Americans would do so, according to a study out from Pew Research this week. That’s significantly higher than it was just two months ago. But it’s still not high enough to get the pandemic under control. And the number is much lower among Black Americans — just over 40% say they would definitely or probably get a vaccine. 

So, what’s it going to take to get more people on board?

There’s a saying in public health that vaccines don’t save lives, vaccinations save lives. 

James Colgrove, a professor of public health at Columbia University, said that means “it’s not going to do anybody any good unless you get it into people’s bodies. People have to be willing to line up and roll up their sleeves.”

The key to getting more people to do that, he added, is trust.

Right now, the nonprofit group the Ad Council and a group of experts called the COVID Collaborative are trying to raise $50 million for a public education campaign. 

Steven Jumper of the digital creative agency GhostNote said people who are hesitant will need to see data and hear from people they trust. 

“It’s going to be important that trusted faces, advisers and leaders in communities, both locally and nationally, are seen on camera endorsing this vaccine,” he said.

President-elect Joe Biden and former Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton have all already said they’ll do that.

Experts said an effective campaign will also have to involve clergy, primary care doctors and local community leaders. People who know — and look like — the people they’re talking to. That will be particularly important in the Black community, said Thomas LaVeist, dean of public health at Tulane University.

“I’ve given some thought to maybe getting together a group of African American scientists … who can speak to the African American community and say, as scientists, we have reviewed this, and we are willing to take this vaccine,” he said.

For some people, he said, it also might take time, and seeing the vaccine start to work in communities like their own.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?

This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.

Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?

India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy continues reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

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