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Experts working to sway those who are reluctant about coronavirus vaccines

coronavirus vaccine AP
Posted at 3:00 AM, Mar 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-24 09:21:16-04

PHOENIX — Millions of shots are going into the arms of people all across State 48. It's progress -- but is it enough?

Right now, here in Arizona, people are still reporting having issues finding any available COVID-19 vaccination appointments, but some national health experts worry the problems have just begun.

ABC15's Nick Ciletti recently asked Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine with the Maricopa County Department of Public Health if obstacles will transition from having enough supply to convincing the people who don't want the vaccine at all.

"What we are seeing over time is that more and more people are becoming comfortable with the idea of receiving the COVID vaccine. The latest data that I've seen nationally is that about 60% of the population really wants to get vaccinated," Dr. Sunenshine said when asked about whether she's worried there won't be enough people who want the vaccine.

But 60% still falls short of the herd immunity goal for this country, with experts saying we need at least 70-75% of the adult population rolling up their sleeves.

Dr. Sunenshine said the problem will transition to targeting the people who haven't yet made up their minds.

"And then there's about another 20-30% who are on the fence. As long as healthcare providers are communicating the safety information, I'm confident that those individuals will want to get the vaccine. There's really a small percent of the population, just 15%, that is not wanting to get vaccinated at all. With that, I think we have a really good chance of getting enough people vaccinated so that we can achieve herd immunity."

But it means health professionals and our leaders will need to work overtime to move the needle on this one.

Dr. Sunenshine said there are a number of reasons why a patient may be apprehensive, but she's hoping more minds will change over time.

"I understand why people are nervous. There is a lot of information out there. And there is a lot of information coming from sources that are often unreliable," she says. "The first thing I say is, make sure you find a source you trust. CDC is a good source...AZDHS and Maricopa County are great sources. Maybe there is a healthcare system you trust or a doctor or nurse? Ask a lot of questions. I would emphasize that what we know about these vaccines is that they are very similar in side effect profiles to other vaccines. That they are incredibly safe."