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Posted By: Lawrence Herman, DMSc, MPA, PA-C
November 27, 2020
In a post earlier this week, I wrote about public skepticism concerning COVID-19 vaccines, with some surveys showing an estimated 50-50 split in terms of whether the US public will get vaccinated. My question to you is: When a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, likely around the end of 2020, will you get vaccinated? I acknowledge that any initial COVID-19 vaccine will be available under an Emergency Use Authorization, with less stringent testing as compared to a fully FDA-approved vaccine.
We all know that healthcare systems and practices require healthcare workers to get vaccinated for many infectious diseases, running the gamut from hepatitis B, MMR, varicella, influenza, and more. Some systems permit opting out of some vaccines, notably influenza, but then require providers to take additional steps, such as wearing a mask. It is certainly possible that some healthcare systems may require a COVID-19 vaccine for all employees. Others may make it optional. This is entirely speculative.
And again, while speculative, it is also possible that municipalities, states, or even Congress will mandate vaccines for specific groups, including those attending any in-person school, pre-K through college. Imagine Congress requiring proof of vaccination for not simply attending school but for high-risk activities such as public transportation (difficult enough for air travel but what about subways and buses?), or to enter high-risk businesses such as restaurants, bars, or gyms. While there are significant public health law precedents, this would likely result in lawsuits and bog down our system for months.
We have seen tremendous non-science messaging over the last 6 months. If large portions of the population see wearing masks as a political statement, what will be said of vaccines?
And for those of us who decline to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, what will be the downstream implications? Can we expect our patients to be vaccinated if we decline vaccination ourselves?
- Tyson A, et al. US public now divided over whether to get COVID-19 vaccine. www.pewresearch.org/science/2020/09/17/u-s-public-now-divided-over-whether-to-get-covid-19-vaccine/. Accessed Nov 24, 2020.