Public health experts warn government has to play 'catch up' to overcome anti-vaccine sentiment

Pfizer coronavirus vaccine.
(Image credit: JOEL SAGET/AFP via Getty Images)

Getting communities to "accept" COVID-19 vaccines is the "last-inch challenge" for the incoming Biden administration, Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told Politico.

The vaccine candidate developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is making its way to the public thanks to an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, but its full potential to help end the pandemic in the U.S. may not be realized if too few Americans opt to receive it. Both the Trump administration and the Biden transition team are working (separately) to get the message about its safety and efficacy out there, but public health experts have warned that efforts may have begun too late, giving anti-vaccine sentiment an advantage. "There should be things out in the media now," Hemi Tewarson, a visiting senior policy fellow at Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, told Politico. "They are definitely going to have to play catch up."

Peter Hotez, a virologist and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine, told Politico that even public service announcements won't be enough to change the narrative he says was created by conspiracy theorists and Russian disinformation campaigns. Instead, he argues President-elect Joe Biden should prepare his Commerce, Homeland Security, and State Departments to directly counter those viewpoints. "Now we've got to do damage control," Hotez said. Read more at Politico.

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