Will people take COVID-19 vaccine? Doctor concerned over those who won't

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- There is cautious optimism that vaccines might be able to end the COVID-19 pandemic. That's promising news from companies like Pfizer and Moderna about their potential breakthroughs offer hope. In order for any vaccine to be effective, people must be willing to take the injections.

Timothy Callaghan is an assistant professor at Texas A&M University's School of Public Health. He said some research suggests a large percentage of Americans remain reluctant to embrace the immunizations.

"With COVID-19, we're seeing almost 50% of the public who is hesitant to vaccinate against COVID-19. When we look at the research and try to understand why so many more individuals are hesitant to vaccinate, there seem to be real concerns about the safety of the potential vaccine and its effectiveness," said Callaghan.

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He said those recent numbers are from Pew Research Center. He said it's clear with this particular vaccine people will need time to embrace it.

"Psychology plays a huge role in how humans behave in sorts of ways including in the area of vaccination," said Callaghan. "That's what some of my research explores: how the psychological dispositions of individuals shape attitudes toward health and health behaviors. And there's certainly is a psychological component to the decisions that people make."

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Dr. Catherine Troisi is an infectious disease epidemiologist with UTHealth's School of Public Health. She said there's so much misinformation spreading online and social media about the effectiveness of vaccines. Troisi said healthy individuals will need to get the COVID-19 vaccine in order to protect other members of our society.

"If people who can be protected do not get this vaccine, it's going to put the other people at risk," said Dr. Troisi. "We won't have herd immunity if enough people don't get the vaccine."

Dr. Troisi said many people haven't lived through times where infectious diseases like polio have had devastating consequences. They haven't seen how a vaccine can prove to be a life-saving tool.

"One of the issues today is that parents haven't seen many of these diseases," said Dr. Troisi. "They don't know how serious these infectious diseases can be. We also have a lot of misinformation particularly with social media."

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