Addressing vaccine hesitancy with UArizona's Chief of Infectious Diseases

Posted at 10:11 PM, May 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-13 10:32:57-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — The number of people getting vaccinated against COVID-19 continues to grow in Arizona and across the country. But the rate at which people are getting vaccinated has slowed.

"The people who most wanted the vaccine went out and got it first," said UArizona Chief of Infectious Diseases Dr. Elizabeth Connick. "So, it makes sense now that they have gotten vaccinated that there's some drop."

COVID data shows for the past two weeks more than 13,000 people per day received their first dose of the vaccine. That number goes up looking at just this past week when an average of 13,460 people per day got their first doses.

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Numbers from May 11th show only 8,700 people got their first shot.

A survey by the Associated Press shows vaccine hesitancy is playing a part. Those who still hesitate have concerns about whether the vaccines have been properly tested.

"Shortcuts were taken -- That's just simply not true," said Dr. Connick. "Huge amounts of money was put into testing these vaccines and huge numbers of people that received them."

Dr. Connick says data continues to show how safe and effective the vaccines are.

The A.P. poll also showed that 61% of those who are hesitant worry about side effects from the vaccines. Dr. Connick says now that doctors are able to administer the vaccine, you should talk with your physician.


"I talk to all of my patients about it," she said. "Some who've been hesitant I've been able to convince to get it. Others I haven't. But I just keep talking to them about it."

Dr. Connick's advice to those trying to convince people to get vaccinated: try to understand where they're coming from and then help ease their fears.

"Some of them you can address easily. For example, the ridiculous, false report that it affects women's fertility. That's easy to say that's simply not true. There's no evidence of that whatsoever," said Dr. Connick.

She remains optimistic that Arizona can reach herd immunity.

"I'm hopeful that as people see their friends and their family and co-workers getting vaccinated, and that they're fine, that they will be less and less reluctant," Dr. Connick said.

Dr. Connick is also conducting a study of asymptomatic college-age students to determine if social distancing and masking are necessary for people who have been vaccinated.

To learn more or sign up for that study click here.