Op-ed: A call to build trust in COVID-19 vaccination

With polls suggesting that a significant proportion of the American public is skeptical about the safety of a coronavirus vaccine, Howard Koh of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health outlined five ways for political leaders to build trust.

In an October 5, 2020 Boston Globe op-ed, Koh—Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership at Harvard Chan School, former Massachusetts commissioner of public health, and former assistant U.S. secretary for health in the Obama administration—noted that vaccine skepticism had been growing even before the pandemic, and lamented the fact that life-saving vaccination has become a partisan issue.

Koh wrote that Americans should demand that their leaders uphold rigorous scientific standards in launching any COVID-19 vaccination campaign; ensure the success of the seasonal flu drive; synchronize national communication about both flu and COVID-19 vaccination campaigns; tackle misinformation about vaccines on social media; and assure the world that U.S. vaccines can promote global health, especially in low-income countries.

“If lack of trust and confidence causes the failure of COVID-19 vaccination, immeasurable human suffering will continue indefinitely,” Koh wrote. “The stakes could not be higher.”

Read the Boston Globe op-ed: Public health — not political partisanship — must take the lead in COVID-19 vaccination