Duke experts say more work is needed to encourage vaccinations as Americans remain hesitant

Digital stories

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – While at least two COVID-19 vaccines are on their way to Americans, there is hesitation surrounding vaccinations.

A recent Gallup Poll found just 58-percent of Americans are willing to be vaccinated. Sixty-one percent of whites said they would be willing while less than half of non-whites are willing.

“We need to be excited and pleased with where the science has got us in a very short period of time,” said Thomas Denny, chief operating officer of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute.

But it’s that very short period of time causing some of the concern.

“In some communities, that suspicion is completely understandable,” said Dr. Gavin Yamey, a professor of the practice of global health and public policy at the Duke Global Health Institute.

Click the image to enlarge. Source: Gallup

Yamey cited past medical experimentation like the Tuskegee Study as one reason people of color are hesitant.

“Black Americans were left with syphilis without treatment to watch what would happen. That goes from 1932 to 1972. That is recent, this remaining suspicion,” Yamey said.

Former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama have all publicly said they would get a vaccine on camera.

Denny said vaccine ambassadors at the local level, like faith leaders, need to publicly advocate too.

“Say ‘This is safe, this is good and participate’. I think if you see that, then you will start to see people be more willing to take the vaccine early on,” said Denny.

Ultimately, Denny said to trust the scientists and the data when making up your mind.

“This is all a work in progress and we need to stay with this,” Denny said.

Vaccine timeline

According to the state’s COVID-19 vaccine plan, there are up to 951,000 people in priority groups 1a and 1b combined to make up the first phase of distribution.

The state’s plan placed residents in long-term care facilities were in priority group 1b. However, a CDC advisory panel voted Tuesday to include LTC residents in group 1a.

NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Many Cohen said the first phases of vaccination will focus on frontline healthcare workers at high risk for exposure and those are folks in nursing homes, adult care homes and other long-term care settings.

After that, she said adults with two or more chronic conditions that put them at higher risk for severe illness from COVID19 such as heart disease or diabetes, will be able to get vaccinated. Cohen anticipates the beginning sometime in January.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

Click here for full list of trending stories