Health officials discuss concern about vaccine hesitancy

Published: Mar. 30, 2021 at 10:53 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - While appointments to get a COVID-19 vaccine are open to anyone in Kansas 16 and older, many counties across the state are struggling to fill those appointments. Health officials say vaccine hesitancy is a concern and could prevent us from reaching herd immunity quickly.

“We’re going to struggle with populations who maybe are concerned about the vaccine’s safety, concerned about whether it works. Maybe they have some healthcare concerns themselves,” said Kansas’ chief Covid -19 advisor, Dr. Marci Neilsen.

Dr. Nielsen is the chief advisor for COVID-19 coordination for Kansas Governor Laura Kelly. She says local healthcare providers will play a key role in establishing vaccine confidence.

“They want some proof and assurance that going through the process of getting vaccinated will be worthwhile,” she said.

It’s a trend proven true at GraceMed in Wichita which has administered a little less than 4,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine in the past two weeks.

“Trust between a provider and a patient is so important, and it’s what’s gotten a lot of patients off the fence,” said GraceMed CEO Venus Lee.

This week, local doctors across the state could receive their first shipments of COVID-19 vaccine to give to their patients. Lee said patient-provider relationships will give doctors’ offices an advantage over mass vaccination sites in winning over people who are still undecided about getting vaccinated.

“It’s an advantage because it’s someone you know and someone you have a relationship with,” Lee said.

She said most of the people who’ve chosen to get the vaccine at GraceMed have been there before.

“It’s been people who have established a relationship with us, who have either heard about what we’ve done or received services here in the past,” Lee said.

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