Op-ed: Public health leaders can build public support for a COVID-19 vaccine

With recent surveys suggesting that many Americans may be reluctant to take a COVID-19 vaccine once it’s available, it will be important for public health leaders to reduce fear and build public support for a vaccine, according to an op-ed co-authored by experts from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

In the November 12, 2020 Boston Globe op-ed, Michelle Williams, dean of the faculty, and Julia Wu, principal investigator at the Human Immunomics Initiative, described five ways that public health leaders could help maximize uptake of COVID-19 vaccines:

  • Engage trusted messengers—the nation’s top scientists and doctors, as well as local physicians—to spread the word that the vaccines will be safe and effective.
  • Create targeted outreach strategies that aim to identify the fears of specific groups and alleviate them.
  • Emphasize that getting vaccinated is every American’s responsibility to protect their loved ones from the virus.
  • Provide the initial limited vaccine supply to those at highest risk.
  • Ensure that the vaccines are free and accessible.

“Stopping the spread of the coronavirus won’t be possible unless everyone is protected,” wrote Williams and Wu. “And that would be public health at its best.”

Read the Boston Globe op-ed: An effective COVID-19 vaccine is on the horizon. We need to support vaccine advocacy