Afraid To Get The Vaccine?

Dear Rich Lifer,

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that only about nine million people have received a Covid-19 vaccine so far. And, as of January 8, only about 150,000 out of those nine million have received both shots required for full efficacy against the deadly coronavirus.

If you recall, federal officials had a goal to administer 20 million people with the first round of the vaccine by the end of 2020.

Meanwhile, the federal government said last week that it had delivered about 25.5 million doses to states, territories and federal agencies. At the same time, public health officials have acknowledged that the vaccine rollout had a slower-than-expected start.

There seems to be confusion from officials over exactly why there has been such a large discrepancy between the number of doses manufactured and the mediocre amount of people who have been vaccinated.

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on most people’s finances. The good news is? There are ways to protect and build your wealth – even in these uncertain times.

Trump Administration Changes Course

Frustrations are clearly mounting, and recently the Trump administration decided to adopt part of President-Elect Biden’s vaccine distribution plan.

The Trump administration’s original plan was to hold back the stock of second doses, while Biden announced he would seek to release nearly all available Covid-19 vaccines in order to accelerate distribution.

TJ Ducklo, a spokesman for Mr. Biden’s transition, stated:

The president-elect believes we must accelerate distribution of the vaccine while continuing to ensure the Americans who need it most get it as soon as possible. He supports releasing available doses immediately, and believes the government should stop holding back vaccine supply so we can get more shots in Americans’ arms now.

Originally, the Trump administration was against this plan and Michael Pratt, a spokesman for Operation Warp Speed stated, “If President-elect Biden is calling for the distribution of vaccines knowing that there would not be a second dose available, that decision is without science or data and is contrary to the FDA’s approved label.”

However, the Trump administration has decided to change course and will now release the previously held back second doses. It is urging states to administer the vaccine to anyone over 65 and to anyone with preexisting conditions.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar explained the change in direction on ABC’s Good Morning America: “We now believe that our manufacturing is predictable enough that we can ensure second doses are available to people from ongoing production. So everything is now available to our states and our health-care providers.”

More information should be released with details about the changes to the vaccination schedule. Meanwhile there are still many Americans who are hesitant to get vaccinated…

Who’s Hesitant

According to a December survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, nearly 40% of Americans say they will definitely not or probably not get the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them. Gallup polls put the number at 37%.

A closer look at demographics reveals more specifics about the groups who are the most skeptical.

A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 35% of Black Americans would probably or definitely not get the vaccine, even if it was determined to be safe by scientists and widely available for free. Comparatively, 26% of Hispanic adults and 26% of White adults said they would not get the vaccine.

Along political lines, 42% of Republicans say they would not get the vaccine, while only 31% of Independent and 12% of Democrats surveyed said the same.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has reported that about 85% of Americans will need to be vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity.

Right now, according to Kaiser, only 71% of Americans surveyed said they will “definitely or probably” get the vaccine.

So why the hesitancy from certain large groups of the population?

Many black adults worry about the potential side effects of the vaccine, with 71% of those who reportedly won’t get vaccinated saying a major reason is that they are worried about possible side effects (which should be mild) and 50% saying they worry they could get COVID-19 from the vaccine.

Many Black and Latino adults also expressed concerns over their needs not being taken into account in the vaccine’s production. Specifically, 48% of Black adults said they were not confident the needs of Black people were considered and 36% of Latino adults said the same about the needs of Latino peoples.

According to the CDC, about 40% of reported Covid-19 cases have been Black and Latino people.

Additionally, Black people have suffered a large history of medical disenfranchisement — or worse, like the Tuskegee experiment that began in the 1930s and involved decades of studying the progress of syphilis in Black men without informing them that they had the disease or offering them the antibiotics needed to treat it.

On the political side of the spectrum, 57% of Republicans surveyed cited “the risks of Covid-19 are being exaggerated” as their main reason for not wanting the vaccine.

Mollyann Brodie, executive vice president with the Kaiser Family Foundation, stated, “Nearly one in four Republicans don’t want to get vaccinated because they don’t believe COVID poses a serious threat… It will be a real challenge to undo COVID denialism among this slice of President Trump’s political base.”

So is there anything doctors and experts can do to assuage these fears?

How Experts Respond to Fears

Black doctors have been at the forefront of efforts to build trust around the vaccine in Black communities. Dr. Yves Duroseau, chair of emergency medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital, was one of the first to receive the vaccine in NYC and he hopes his willingness will influence communities who have been most severely affected by coronavirus — like Black and Latino communities — to trust in the vaccine.

Dr. Fauci recently acknowledged Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, a Black woman and one of the scientists leading the development of the vaccine, with hopes that it would convince Black people to trust the process.

However, Brendan Nyhan of Dartmouth College, who studies misperceptions about health care and politics, states, “The most effective messenger in the Black community won’t be the same one as among Republicans, obviously. We need to meet each community where they are and understand the reasons for their mistrust.”

Rupali Limaye, a health communication scientist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says that it’s better to approach people’s fear with empathy rather than trying to correct people’s misconceptions outright.

Additionally, it has been determined through polling that personal health care providers are most likely to convince individuals to get vaccinated.

While it is concerning that among Republicans 85% of vaccine-hesitant members named Trump as their most trusted source of information, 67% named their own doctor as a distant second.

Overall, transparency is key as the vaccine continues its rollout.

“Striving to be a good communicator and empathetic is of ethical importance. It makes health care better, but it’s not a systemic solution,” says Zackary Berger, a bioethicist and associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Ultimately it looks like there is no “one size fits all” to dealing with vaccine related fear, so instead experts suggest more open communication tailored to the most skeptical communities.

We will continue to monitor the rollout of the vaccine as more people are becoming eligible for doses.

To a Richer Life,

The Rich Life Roadmap Team

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