Other’s opinion: Officials, agencies need to rebuild trust in vaccine

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The Free Press

With the recent election campaign consuming virtually all of the public’s attention, it is understandable people haven’t focused a lot on the search for a COVID-19 vaccine. But getting a vaccine that the public will trust and use is the only thing that will end this pandemic.

The widespread effort by numerous pharmaceutical companies, researchers and medical facilities to produce a vaccine continues with some trials, such as a promising one by Johnson & Johnson, entering the important third phase. Other trials are already in phase three.

Email newsletter signup

Phase three is important because the trial vaccine is given to thousands of volunteers to test it for safety and effectiveness.

If ever there were a need to ensure a vaccine is both effective and safe, it is now. Americans will not be able to resume normal lives and the economy will not be able to fully recover until a good vaccine is produced and widely used.

Unfortunately, the wide use a vaccine once it is found remains in doubt.

A recent Pew Research Center survey found people who said they would definitely or probably get vaccinated was only at 51%. That percentage plunged from the 72% of respondents who in May said they would get vaccinated.

That lack of trust in a vaccine must be reversed if we are to move past this public health crisis.

The public’s faith has been shaken because of mixed messages from agencies such as the CDC and because of political interference. The growth of the conspiracy culture — including the anti-vaccine groups — must also be countered.

The good news is there is every indication the medical professionals leading vaccine trials are taking their jobs seriously and following proper protocols. Both Pfizer and AstraZeneca halted their trials for a short time after unexpected reactions by some participants. The pauses are not surprising in phase three trials and they show that people are bending over backwards to ensure safety.

That should ease public fears that a vaccine could be rushed to approval without proper protocols being followed.

While medical professionals are moving ahead with their important work to create a vaccine, political and social leaders and agencies will need to step up to restore faith in the system to ensure the use of a vaccine is widespread. Failure to do so will only ensure the pandemic and suffering will drag on and on.