Myths and misinformation surrounding COVID-19 are causing people to hesitate getting vaccinated against the virus, putting them in greater danger of contracting the more contagious and potentially more severe Delta variant.
The vaccine rate in the region has stalled, with nearly 53% of people in the Fox Cities area having received at least one dose. In Shawano County, that number is even lower, with 42% in the county receiving one dose.
As hospitalization rates increase as the Delta variant spreads, providers want the public to be aware that the overwhelming majority of COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations in the U.S are among those who are unvaccinated.
“Even though we are currently seeing a new surge with the Delta variant, it’s not too late to protect yourself,” said Shanique Jarrett, D.O., Family Medicine Physician at ThedaCare Physicians-Shawano. “Getting vaccinated now will greatly improve your body’s ability to fight off the virus.”
Over the course of the next few weeks, ThedaCare providers will tackle COVID-19 vaccine myths and misinformation. The topics will vary from myths around altering DNA to the vaccine causing fertility issues.
COVID-19 Vaccine Myth #3: Vaccine disparity among racial and ethnic minorities is due to mistrust in the medical system.
Vaccination statistics show that Asian and White Americans are more likely to receive the vaccine than other groups, including Black Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans. Recent outreach efforts within those minority communities – as well as concerns over the surge of the Delta variant – have boosted vaccination numbers among people in these populations.
“While a historical mistrust of the medical system, fueled by institutional racism and past injustices against racial and ethnic minority groups, may play a role, the reasons for vaccine disparity are multiple and complex,” said Dr. Jarrett. “Largely, the gap has occurred because of a complex web of socioeconomic factors.”
For example, people in these minority groups are more likely to work certain jobs that make it difficult to take time off to get vaccinated, Dr. Jarrett said.
“For the same reason, these groups have been hit harder by the virus because they work in greater proportions in public-facing jobs and careers that cannot be done from home,” she said.
Inequities in health care access, gaps in reliable transportation, poor broadband and high-speed internet availability, and inflexible work schedules all play a role in preventing people from easily obtaining the vaccine.
“Additionally, people in these groups also tend to be more likely to carry co-morbidities that create a greater likelihood of complications of the COVID-19 virus,” Dr. Jarrett said. “They have higher rates of diabetes and hypertension, and they tend to have a poor diet – leading to being overweight.”
Similar socioeconomic issues also impact many white Americans and those living in rural communities. Some hesitancy – as seen in all populations – has come from the perception that the COVID-19 vaccine was ‘rushed’ or ‘untested,’ Dr. Jarrett said. However, coronavirus vaccines have been studied for years, starting with the SARS and MERS epidemics.
“I think it goes to show that when we pool our resources into something we desperately need, we can push through inefficiencies in the system and see results very quickly,” Dr. Jarrett said. “If you’re willing to trust providers with your care when things start to get worse, then trust us when we say it’s important and safe to get the vaccine now.”
Additionally, for those who believe COVID-19 is like the flu and they will recover quickly, they should be aware that long-term, ongoing effects have been reported, including shortness of breath, vascular complications and brain fog.
“The risk of side effects of being vaccinated are much lower than the risks of death or long-term illness from getting COVID-19 itself,” Dr. Jarrett said.
Common side effects from the vaccines can include fatigue, headache, fever and chills. Most side effects diminish within 24-48 hours. All COVID-19 vaccines work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop immunity to disease.
To ensure coordination and continue ThedaCare’s long history of delivering vaccines safely and effectively, the system will continue offering COVID-19 vaccines at select Primary Care and Pediatric Clinics, while continuing to offer doses at designated vaccine clinics.
For more information about COVID-19, schedule a vaccine, find a testing location, view online care options and community resources, as well as other important news and updates, please visit thedacarecovid19.org/.