When clinicians exercise their leadership in the community, nothing is more powerful in commanding attention.
Vaccinations have some side effects and risks, no question. But the risk of not vaccinating is too high. At the start of the pandemic, I did not know anyone who had been diagnosed with COVID-19. Now, I know of two people who have lost the fight to the disease. Both too young, they did everything right to protect themselves, and still their grieving families were left behind.
A group I am familiar with came together in a community outside Central New York to help register patients for vaccines. Some of those patients shared the myths they heard and why they were not going to get vaccinated. As healthcare professionals, what you say to patients and demonstrate in some visible way matters. If you have colleagues discouraging their patients from the vaccine, are you openly discussing the damage this might do?
I asked Kris Paolino, MD, an infectious disease physician from SUNY Upstate who is treating COVID-19 patients, why people should be vaccinated against the disease.
“The more people vaccinated as soon as possible, the less time there is for variants to develop,” Dr. Paolino replied.
I have also heard of people being discouraged from receiving their second dose. According to the American Medical Association’s advisor Sandra Fryhofer, MD, “The most important thing, whichever vaccine you get for the first dose, is you have to get the second dose. You want to get the full dose. Also, there should be no mixing and matching of vaccines.”
Banner Health in Colorado has gone so far to quantify answers to some of those myths in their communications:
- Especially important is encouraging young adults to get the vaccine, as recent outbreaks are impacting this younger group.
- We are increasing the number of people vaccinated every day, but in many communities that average is still below 50%. We have a long way to go to end this outbreak. Leadership from clinicians will make all the difference!
Kathryn Ruscitto, Advisor, can be reached on LinkedIn at KathrynRuscitto or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.