Solutions to COVID-19 Vaccine Hesistancy

April 5, 2021
Kevin Kunzmann

An expert stresses the need to consider individuals' worry over information—and even their history with systemic biases.

As of this week, the United States has provided at least 1 COVID-19 vaccine dose to one-third of its entire population.

The effort to vaccinate the entire adult population kicks into another gear this month, as the country begins to expand access to include all interested parties, and the Biden administration makes good on its guarantee of available doses for all adults by May 2021.

But vaccine buy-in, even into the fourth and fifth month of rollout, is a crucial conversation toward achieving majority vaccination rates.

In a second segment from his interview with Contagion, Kevin Grumbach, MD, professor of Family Community Medicine at the UCSF School of Medicine, discussed the matter of COVID-19 vaccine reluctance—and its differentiation from the much smaller and more obstinate anti-vaccination movement.

“One of the strongest reasons it was associated with people saying that they have a reluctance with getting vaccinated was the speed of the approval process,” Grumbach said. “I don’t interpret that as they’re dead-set against it. They’re in the “wait and see” group.”

Grumbach argued a hesitant perspective is “understandable” given the circumstances of the approval process, and that experts need to encourage continued dialogue with such individuals while providing them reliable sources of information.

In discussing the hesitancy among minority and ethnically diverse communities, Grumbach stressed there needs to be an acknowledgement of the country’s history with racism and its role in medical practice—and understand that it’s a vital part of the vaccine decision-making process for many people.

Lastly, he stressed the need for more accommodating vaccination strategies and resources as more doses become available for a greater rate of people. Current vaccination sites require amenities that are often taken for granted, such as internet access and a car.

“We have to be much more diversified and not just think there’s this one method of making a big, grand drive-in site,” he said. “Those need to be coupled with a lot of ones that are much more community-based and locally accessible.”