The COVID-19 pandemic has lasted more than a year, but hope is here in the form of multiple safe and effective vaccines authorized for emergency use. Millions are now being vaccinated, but as vaccine supply continues to increase throughout 2021, a hurdle health experts anticipate eventually is a lack of public demand. That is, how do health care providers address vaccine hesitancy when it’s critical for the greater good that enough of the population is vaccinated to reach herd immunity?
To Greg Poland, M.D., an infectious diseases expert and head of Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group, the answer comes down to one word: Listening.
“In the spirit of seeking the root-cause issue, we need to stop asking why people don’t understand what we are telling them and consider asking why we don’t understand them,” Dr. Poland and colleagues write in a recent editorial in the scientific journal Vaccine. “For many patients, health care providers are no longer considered to be the exclusive expert in health decisions.”
In the article, the authors break down possible paths forward for health care providers and their patients:
Dr. Poland, who is Editor-in-Chief of Vaccine, wrote the editorial with his daughter Caroline Poland, a licensed mental health counselor and certified clinical trauma professional with Poland and Associates Consulting, along with Allison Matthews, a designer in the Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery.
The research was supported in part by the Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery. The mission of the center is to be an innovative driver of change for Mayo Clinic by developing, analyzing and rapidly diffusing solutions for the transformation of health care.
Dr. Poland is a paid scientific advisor for Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Global Services LLC. Dr. Poland is the chair of a Safety Evaluation Committee for novel investigational vaccine trials being conducted by Merck Research Laboratories. Dr. Poland offers consultative advice on vaccine development to Merck & Co., Medicago, GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi Pasteur, Emergent Biosolutions, Dynavax, Genentech, Eli Lilly and Company, Kentucky Bioprocessing, Bavarian Nordic, AstraZeneca, Exelixis, Regeneron, Janssen, Vyriad, Moderna, and Genevant Sciences, Inc. Dr. Poland holds patents related to vaccinia, influenza, and measles peptide vaccines. Dr. Poland has received grant funding from ICW Ventures for preclinical studies on a peptide-based COVID-19 vaccine. These activities have been reviewed by the Mayo Clinic Conflict of Interest Review Board and are conducted in compliance with Mayo Clinic Conflict of Interest policies. This research has been reviewed by the Mayo Clinic Conflict of Interest Review Board and was conducted in compliance with Mayo Clinic Conflict of Interest policies.