Addressing the residual hesitancy concerns of the unvaccinated is indeed a multifaceted challenge. In this space we have previously chronicled many of the deterrents to vaccination in the Black community. The impact of the historical mistrust of the medical community, mixed messaging from the federal government, and the counterproductive moniker of “warp speed” has been dramatically lessened by real information delivered by trusted voices. Specifically, back in December 2020 fifty-two percent of Black Americans polled voiced a “wait and see” attitude and 20% said they would get the shot as soon as possible. Compared that to now where 59% of Blacks stated that they had already received a vaccine or would do so ASAP, and only 19% voiced a “wait and see”.
Every person who refuses to get vaccinated keeps US another step away from getting to herd immunity. The current 57% level of adult vaccination is far short of the 75-80% of the population necessary for herd immunity or the July 4th 70% adult vaccination goal of President Biden. These goals will be aided by some people’s skepticism being eliminated by Pfizer seeking actual licensing for its vaccine since there is now six-month safety data available in tens of millions of recipients. Getting more people vaccinated soon will not only lessen the illness, hospitalizations, and deaths but also get all our kids back into the classroom and our society back to worship, work, concerts, sports, and socialization. By reducing virus replication we reduce the opportunities for the virus to mutate. Virus mutation is becoming more of a problem for the world. India is suffering now from what the USA experienced this past winter. Thousands of people are dying there every day and that country accounts for 46% of the world’s new cases. An India variant, classified by the WHO as B.1.617, has been identified which spreads more easily. There are five “variants of concern” in the United States and notably 60% of the new cases in our country are caused by the B.1.1.7 (British variant). In order to end a global pandemic the disease must be fought everywhere. In order to save our health and the world’s economy we must do more.
Clyde E. Henderson, MD
Cincinnati Medical Association