Doctors helping fight vaccine hesitancy

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- Social media is a source of a lot of misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine, and it’s fueling vaccine hesitancy.

Dr. Mark Epstein, CEO and president of True Health New Mexico, recommends that patients share their concerns about the vaccine with their medical provider– if they are questioning whether to get the shot.

He also said that people should help others understand what is real and fake about the vaccine.

"People trust their clinicians. They want to know, ‘should I do this, is it safe, can I do this?/ And that’s great – so referring people to talk to their clinicians, all their questions, all their fears – and the upside of the vaccine as well, not just for them but for the community," he said. "But also kind of as community members, how do we talk to each other about it? ‘Hey, what are you thinking? What was it like for you? How should I be thinking about it?’ I think that’s where we’re going to be able to more powerfully unlock getting people to get that in their arm."

Dr. Epstein said a lot of people have expressed concerns about how fast the vaccine was developed. However, he notes that Operation Warp speed cut a lot of the red tape out of the mix, not the safety protocols.

"The money was there up front, so there wasn’t a gamble. It was going to be there – the resources were brought to bear. Another thing that was different was things didn’t happen one after another, they kind of happened in parallel," he said. "As an example, while the two vaccines that are out there now were being finalized in terms of the clinical trials to make sure they were safe and effective, the production systems were already put in place on the hope and the bet that they would be safe and effective, which they were. So doing those in parallel has helped ramp up more quickly and shorten the time it takes to get the vaccine safely into people’s arms."