Q&A: Enhancing Public Trust and Health with COVID-19 Vaccination

IVAC experts contributed to the Center for Health Security report on Enhancing Public Trust and Health With COVID-19 Vaccination. This is a Q&A with Monica Schoch-Spana (co-chair of Working Group on Readying Populations for COVID-19 Vaccine) and Lois Privor-Dumm (WG member).

While the world anxiously awaits a COVID-19 vaccine, there are significant considerations to be made in terms of how to actually vaccinate a global population. Chief among them will be building trust and understanding to address concerns about the vaccine itself—especially one produced on an accelerated timeline.

To help advance the U.S. public’s understanding of, access to, and acceptance of vaccines that protect against COVID-19, a working group convened by the Center for Health Security with members from the International Vaccine Access Center and the Institute for Vaccine Safety, has released a resource, The Public’s Role in COVID-19 Vaccination: Planning Recommendations Informed by Design Thinking and the Social, Behavioral, and Communication Sciences. The resource provides recommendations for a people-centric approach to improve the planning and implementation of the COVID-19 vaccination program.

What’s most important for people to keep in mind about a COVID-19 vaccine?

PRIVOR DUMM: Although early results are promising, we still don’t know what a vaccine will look like and how effective and safe it will be in certain populations. We will likely still need to be vigilant about washing our hands and isolating when testing positive or showing symptoms as no vaccine is 100% effective and certain people will still be susceptible. People should also get other vaccines including influenza or other recommended immunizations and should continue to take steps to prevent other health issues.

Preventing excess death, long hospital stays, and persistent effects that leave patients weakened and more susceptible to other diseases will help reduce hundreds of billions of dollars in direct medical cost due the pandemic alone, free up hundreds of millions of hospital beds that may be needed for other diseases, and help prevent the potentially catastrophic economic impact of long-term illness to families and society.