By Dennis Thompson
TUESDAY, Oct. 20, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Promoting any emerging COVID-19 vaccine to a skeptical public could be tough.
But a new survey finds vaccine uptake might rise if the shot is promoted by medical experts, not politicians, and if it’s been proven safe and effective through a rigorous approval process.
A vaccine shown to be highly effective in clinical trials with lasting protection and rare major side effects will command more public respect, particularly if major public health organizations endorse it, researchers found.
There won’t be as many takers for a vaccine that meets minimum U.S. Food and Drug Administration standards, is approved under emergency use protocols, and is endorsed by politicians rather than medical experts, according to findings published Oct. 20 in JAMA Network Open.
These results show that efforts to develop and promote a COVID-19 vaccine need to be depoliticized, said senior researcher Douglas Kriner, a professor of government at Cornell University.
“The rollout of the vaccine and the public health effort to communicate to people the importance of doing this, that it’s safe and effective and trying to encourage people to vaccinate, should really be left to the public health professionals,” Kriner said.
An endorsement from either U.S. presidential candidate would do little to promote the vaccine, while a nod from either the World Health Organization or the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would carry great weight, the survey showed.
“It’s hard to imagine politicians not wanting to wade in on this, rather than simply deferring to the medical experts, but the more they engage, the more problems that might cause,” Kriner said.
Further, the speed at which the vaccine is being developed and tested could well complicate efforts to have it widely accepted, noted Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of infectious disease at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.
“The very name, Operation Warp Speed, works against us,” he said. “The average citizen who hears this thinks that we’re cutting corners, and they want nothing to do with that.”