The Exchange

Commentary and Observations from
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COVID- 19 and Trust in Healthcare in the US: Where Has it Gone?

COVID- 19 and Trust in Healthcare in the US: Where Has it Gone?

We are so fortunate in the United States to have access to not only the COVID- 19 vaccine, but also to options as to which vaccine to receive. Most Americans who were eager to receive a vaccine have been able to get it at this point—close to 6 months after it was initially released to those at highest risk in December 2020. However, many of those who remain unvaccinated are hesitant to receive one, for several reported reasons: Some claim the vaccine was rushed to Emergency Use Approval (EUA) without the test of time, and others just simply don't trust the data and science. Adding to hesitancy is the intersection of politics and healthcare: The CDC, a long-time trusted resource for research and knowledge in the US, has come under attack on many fronts, including allegations of political influence in policy-making and recommendations.

As healthcare providers, COVID-19 challenged us to be nimble and forgiving as knowledge and local, regional, and national policies changed rapidly—almost daily at times—in response to new-found data from a variety of sources. We communicated this to the public, including our patients and our customers, as best we could. As a frontline healthcare provider working in COVID-19 testing since the onset of the pandemic, I have watched the evolution of COVID-19 and, consequently, the evolution of trust, unfold and unravel.

Initially, most people were grateful and embraced any information we could share, especially as knowledgeable health care providers. Now, many people are getting information from whatever sources they trust: various media platforms, the internet, etc. Patients seem rather cynical and annoyed as enforcement of some policies no longer seem to make sense, such as masking and continued lockdowns in some regions. The idea of a mandatory COVID-19 vaccine has become a hotly contested topic. We already mandate some vaccines for school entry at every level (eg, kindergarten, high school, college) and entry into professional schools. Those who refuse mandated vaccines without a valid reason have other options such as private schools and home-schooling.

People assert that, as Americans, we have the freedom to choose to receive the vaccine. Where does the health of the public come into play regarding vaccinations, for COVID-19 or for any disease? Maybe this is a discussion worth having with your colleagues and/or administration.

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Filed under: Health Policy and Trends, Public Health

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