LIBERTY, Mo. — The first vaccine challenge for medical experts was not enough supply of the COVID-19 vaccine for everyone who wanted to be vaccinated.
Now that there’s plenty of COVID-19 vaccine, the next hurdle is convincing people who are hesitant to get the vaccine.
One of the main topics of conversation in doctors offices is the COVID-19 vaccine. Primary care physicians answer a lot of questions from patients who are not comfortable getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
“The simple reality is the number one advocate is a persons primary care physician,” said University of Kansas Health System Chief Medical Officer Dr. Steven Stites.
The rapid rush for vaccines has slowed and medical experts like Stites believe primary care physicians are the folks who are most able to ramp up demand again.
“We have to get those conversations really going between primary care and those who are hesitant,” Stites said. “One of the best ways to do it is park the vaccine in the primary care clinic so when people say yes, you vaccinate them right there.”
Dr. William Boulware who is in private practice in Liberty, has had a good number of patients who have contracted COVID-19 over the past year and one who has died. He knows it is a serious virus and believes people should be vaccinated.
Boulware estimates about 35% of his patients are vaccine hesitant. Uneasy because of the reactions some people are experiencing after being vaccinated, what some consider a rush to develop the vaccines and concerns that the MRNA vaccines will change their genetic code, which Boulware said does not happen.
“I try to encourage the vaccine but I do think you have to keep an open mind to peoples concerns and give patients to fair view of what they’re doing,” Boulware said.
Seventy percent of the time those conversations end up calming his patients’ fears, Boulware said. He strongly suggests his patients who are older and have underlying medical conditions get the vaccine and advocates healthy patients do the same, while respecting that it is a personal choice.
That may not always be the case in every situation moving forward Stites said.
“I think companies will start requiring vaccines once it’s been fully approved by the FDA and maybe even before that,” he said.
The slow down is especially concerning in Kansas and Missouri experts say. Both states are sitting just below 40% of the population having at least the first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.