Engendering trust in coronavirus vaccines
Besides ensuring that health care workers are inoculated against COVID-19, the Stanford vaccine committee is also focused on building trust in the vaccines.
Committee member Grace Lee, MD, associate chief medical officer for practice innovation at Stanford Children’s Health and a professor of pediatrics, said people worried about vaccine safety can rest assured that, despite how quickly coronavirus vaccines have been developed, federal regulators are rigorously reviewing them.
Lee is also a member of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which advises the CDC on vaccine use and safety. She and Stanford epidemiologist Yvonne Maldonado, MD, who represents the American Academy of Pediatrics as a liaison to the committee, have expressed confidence in the Pfizer vaccine that the Food and Drug Administration authorized for emergency use on Dec. 11. The clinical trial, which enrolled about 44,000 people, has found that the vaccine is 95% effective and that there are no significant safety concerns. The final phase of the trial is ongoing.
Lee said it’s incumbent on health care providers to share what is known about the vaccines and why it’s important to be vaccinated against a disease that is infecting and killing people in record numbers.
“I think it would be normal for any patient to ask me, ‘Are you going to get that vaccine? Will you get your family members vaccinated?’” Lee said. “If I can answer yes to both questions, hopefully the people who are asking will also feel a sense of trust in the vaccine.”
Maldonado, who is senior associate dean of faculty development and diversity at the School of Medicine, said that sharing that kind of message and reinforcing COVID-19 prevention efforts in local communities are priorities for Stanford Medicine.
In communities with high concentrations of Black and Latino residents, for example, Stanford Medicine clinicians are helping local health care workers conduct COVID-19 testing and providing them with personal protective equipment. They’re also offering people in these communities opportunities to enroll in vaccine trials.
“A lot of what we’re trying to do is really to support those communities who may not have access to the resources,” said Maldonado, professor of pediatrics and of epidemiology and population health and also a member of Stanford Medicine’s vaccine committee.