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USF Experts Explore Trust In COVID-19 Vaccines

A woman holds a shot of the coronavirus vaccine
Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County

Health experts say vaccine engagement efforts are helping build trust in communities, but there is still a lot of work to do.

Experts with the University of South Florida will combat mistrust in COVID-19 vaccines during a virtual event on Friday.

The “Trust and Vaccines” event features representatives from USF’s Taneja College of Pharmacy and Bishop Center for Ethical Leadership, as well as PolitiFact. They’ll discuss some of the reasons for vaccine hesitancy and explore efforts to provide credible information to the community.

Kevin Sneed, dean of the pharmacy school, has been educating the Tampa Bay community about the vaccines since clinical trials were underway as part of an organization he directs called WE-CARE. It encourages people of color to participate in medical research.

Sneed said many people he encountered resisted the vaccines because they were wary of “the unknowns” in terms of how they worked and how they were developed. But he said engagement efforts are paying off.

As COVID-19 Vaccine Myths Persist, USF Health Expert Shares The Facts
Listen as Dr. Kevin Sneed debunks some common myths about COVID-19 vaccines.
Ernest Grant, the president of the American Nurses Association, is taking part in a Moderna coronavirus vaccine trial. He says he wants to increase trust in science.

“I think people have been a little more inquisitive, they've been more willing to receive information, and health care providers and public health officials, we've been far more willing to take the time to answer those questions from people in communities,” Sneed said. “So there has been an evolution in terms of overall trust over time that has improved.”

Still, Sneed said there is a lot more work to do. He said he is especially concerned that false ideas that the vaccines cause infertility or involve injecting microchips into people still persist.

He said it is important to continue education efforts, but also to be transparent about any vaccine-related events that cause concern, as scientists and health officials are still learning about them.

"Trust & Vaccines" is an hour-long event that begins at 11 a.m. on Friday. You can register to attend here.

I cover health care for WUSF and the statewide journalism collaborative Health News Florida. I’m passionate about highlighting community efforts to improve the quality of care in our state and make it more accessible to all Floridians. I’m also committed to holding those in power accountable when they fail to prioritize the health needs of the people they serve.
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