Health Desk – 12 Jun, 2021: Healthcare professionals and public health authorities have a central role in discussing vaccination against COVID-19 with their patients. Vaccines play a critical role in preventing deaths, hospitalisation caused by infectious diseases. Emerging data on effectiveness indicates that licenced COVID-19vaccines are contributing to controlling the spread of the disease. Until widespread vaccination has been achieved, both vaccinated and unvaccinated people need to be aware of the additional protective behaviours required to control the pandemic locally.
The global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented level of public interest in vaccines. This includes a focus on the development of vaccines and their regulatory review and safety monitoring. Much of this coverage has taken place through mass and social media. Reports of adverse events (side effects) have led some people to express concerns about getting vaccinated, delay getting vaccinated or even be strongly opposed to vaccination. There are also differences in individual confidence in national safety monitoring systems. Another challenge in communicating the importance of COVID-19 vaccination is that younger adults are typically less clinically affected by COVID-19 infection and so may see limited value in getting vaccinated, including until further data confirms that vaccines prevent transmission and that vaccines are effective against variants. Clear and consistent communication is therefore essential to support people in making the choice to be vaccinated.