Public perceptions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ COVID-19 vaccines pose challenges

Some people are starting to develop the impression that there are “good” COVID-19 vaccines and “bad” COVID-19 vaccines based on media coverage of clinical trials, according to February 17, 2021 STAT article.

Public health experts expressed concern that media coverage of COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials has created an oversimplified narrative that AstraZeneca’s and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines are less effective than Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines. The reality is much more nuanced, and experts said they’re worried that some people may pass up the opportunity to get a particular vaccine and instead wait until they can get one they think is better. This problem could get worse as more vaccines are approved, according to the article.

Kasisomayajula “Vish” Viswanath, Lee Kum Kee Professor of Health Communication at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said this problem could become especially troubling if there are scenarios in which communities of color are given vaccines that are perceived to be less effective.

“If certain groups in the system get certain kinds of vaccines with differential efficacy, all hell will break loose,” he said. “If there is a kind of a differential allocation, even if the reasons are good, that will definitely explode into allegations of racism and mistrust.”

Read the STAT article: The myth of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Covid vaccines: Why false perceptions overlook facts, and could breed resentment