Howto en­sure vac­cine adop­tion

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - PERSPECTIV­E -

Sev­eral COVID-19 vac­cine can­di­dates are likely to be ap­proved for use in theU.S. in the com­ing months. Last­week, we learned that an in­terim anal­y­sis of one of the most promis­ing vac­cineswas more than 90% ef­fec­tive in pre­vent­ing COVID-19. What if, when a vac­cine is re­leased to the pub­lic, no one takes it? It is es­sen­tial thatwe nowen­gage res­i­dents of com­mu­ni­ties most af­fected byCOVID-19 to en­surewidesp­read adop­tion.

Tak­ing this step will not be easy. Many con­cerns ex­ist about theCOVID-19 vac­cines and the speed atwhich they have been de­vel­oped. Vac­cine hes­i­tancy is par­tic­u­larly high among com­mu­ni­ties of color, rooted in un­eth­i­cal stud­ies of the past, such as the Tuskegee ex­per­i­ment. In a re­cent re­port about the eq­ui­table al­lo­ca­tion of COVID-19 vac­cines, theNa­tional Academy ofMedicine urged trust­wor­thy com­mu­ni­ca­tion about vac­cine risks through com­mu­nity en­gage­ment.

In re­sponse, or­ga­ni­za­tions in the Chicago metro area aim to part­ner with com­mu­ni­ties to form the “vac­cine corps,” a net­work of trusted mes­sen­gers to sup­port vac­ci­na­tion ef­forts. The vac­cine corps would be trained to dis­pelmyths, ad­dress con­cerns about the value and safety of a COVID-19 vac­cine, and ul­ti­mately help peo­ple ac­cess the vac­cine.

The or­ga­ni­za­tions in­volved also see this mo­ment as an op­por­tu­nity to bring about needed im­prove­ments to our neigh­bor­hoods and com­mu­ni­ties by ad­dress­ing as­pects of daily life im­pacted byCOVID-19, such as jobs, hous­ing, racial eq­uity, trans­porta­tion and ac­cess to food. We en­vi­sion a fu­ture in which these ef­forts will help to re­store our phys­i­cal, social and eco­nomic health, ul­ti­mately leav­ing the Chicago area more eq­ui­table and re­silient.

— Gayla Brock­man, Michael ReeseHealt­h Trust, and Dr. Jerry A. Krish­nan, Univer­sity of Illi­nois at Chicago

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