COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy and the Role of Physicians

One of the most successful public health initiatives is vaccination. According to the World Health Organization, it is a method of protecting a population from  harmful diseases by using the body’s natural protection mechanism, the immune system, to create resistance to particular pathogens, thus strengthening the immune system. Vaccine demand is on the rise these days, especially the COVID-19 vaccine demand. Scientists, doctors, and other healthcare professionals are working hard on making the vaccine accessible for the world’s population in order to establish herd immunity and prevent a repetition of the pandemic. Several citizens have expressed their reservations and oppositions towards vaccination ever since the COVID-19 vaccine was launched a few months ago. There are also those who have not completely rejected the vaccine but are concerned about the short and long-term side effects that could occur after vaccination. This article will discuss the concept of vaccine hesitancy, the causes of vaccine hesitancy, what people should remember about vaccines, and how medical practitioners should treat vaccine-hesitant patients.

Many people developed vaccine hesitancy after discovering that the COVID-19 vaccine was available from several pharmaceutical companies. Vaccine hesitancy is identified as a delay in accepting or refusing a vaccine. Vaccine hesitancy varies depending on the form and dosage of the vaccine. Vaccination refusal can be prompted by patients or their parents; as a result, vaccine hesitancy can be triggered by a variety of causes, at different times and locations. Generally, vaccine hesitancy can be caused by three factors: complacency, lack of convenience, and lack of confidence. First, complacency in vaccination means that the patient believes that they do not need to be vaccinated and that they are not liable for anything in the event of disease transmission. Second, in this case, a lack of confidence suggests that the patients are uncertain about the possible side effects and dangers of vaccination. It is also possible that the patients have doubts about their health system’s effectiveness and capabilities. People may be skeptical of the COVID-19 vaccine because the vaccine trials took place for such a short period. Third, due to a number of factors such as physical availability, geographic location, and affordability, it might not be convenient for the patients to have complete access to the vaccine. Since the COVID-19 vaccine has only recently begun its administration around the world, it is still inaccessible to a significant number of citizens in many countries. All of these factors contribute to a high vaccine supply but low vaccine acceptance.

Patients should ensure that they are concerned about the facts of the COVID-19 vaccine before assessing its efficacy. To begin with, the COVID-19 vaccine will help patients avoid being infected with the virus by collaborating with the immune system to combat the virus. Additionally, vaccination will benefit the population by generating herd immunity. As a result, people will feel comfortable amongst their peers, raising the likelihood of a return to normalcy. Following that, the variety of COVID-19 vaccine research has also aided in determining the vaccine’s safety and efficacy. The doctors in charge of testing the vaccine have also ensured that the patients, as well as the reference vaccine used in the clinical trials, are diverse. Furthermore, patients can get a vaccine even though they have already had COVID-19. Despite the fact that the COVID-19 vaccine was developed quickly, it did not skip any steps. The vaccines were created using methods that have been developed and tested over a long period and are designed to rapidly produce and thoroughly test vaccines in the event of a pandemic, such as what we are experiencing with COVID-19.

Since the majority of the population searches the internet and news for information about COVID-19, the way the media depicts the effects of the COVID-19 vaccine could have an impact on patients’ interest in the vaccine. COVID-19 vaccine details can be false and misleading. Physicians must be able to communicate with patients about the effectiveness, necessity, and potential side effects of COVID-19 vaccination in a clear and understandable manner. It is recommended that physicians suggest vaccination as the first line of defense in the treatment and prevention of disease. Patients will be able to put their confidence in the successful and approved vaccine, which will reduce their apprehension. Following that, doctors must be open and truthful about the vaccine’s side effects, as well as reassure patients about the vaccine’s testing methods. This should be done in accordance with the concept of patient beneficence in medical ethics, that is recommending the best option without causing harm to the patient. Manufacturer legislation, independent vaccine guidelines, and continuous monitoring of adverse effects are also part of the evidence-based approval process. In addition to vaccine recommendations, physicians may share personal stories and experiences about vaccination. This approach would enable patients to relate it to themselves and their circumstances, reducing their fear of vaccination. Most notably, it is recommended that clinicians, when consulting with the patients, should concentrate on the fact that vaccines are a means of shielding a child and society from the spread of COVID-19. However, given the patient’s autonomy and right to accept or reject treatments, no discussion or elucidation may force the patient to accept the vaccine.

To summarise, vaccine hesitancy refers to a pause in vaccination acceptance due to a variety of factors. Even if there are many side effects such as high blood pressure, fever, and muscle pain, the vaccine’s safety can be ensured as it has been thoroughly tested in accordance with safety regulations. When dealing with vaccine-hesitant patients, doctors should remember to give patients unbiased vaccine advice and to value their autonomy when they reject the treatment and care. There are a variety of approaches to dealing with vaccine apprehension in patients; doctors must first consider their concerns and then recommend the best treatment options available. Everything in this world has its benefits and flaws, depending on our point of view. Vaccines are now our best chance for preventing and stopping this pandemic. Although the development of the COVID-19 vaccine may take a very short time, its side effects and efficacy have already been evaluated and will be further developed in the future as part of scientific intervention. As a result, when determining whether or not to get vaccinated, patients have to weigh multiple variables and collect a lot of information in order for their decision to be considered legitimate.

Written by:

Lanlalin Sojikul

Faculty of Medicine, Chulabhorn International College of medicine, Thammasat University

AMSA Thailand


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