Why Doctors and Nurses Can Be Vital Vaccine Messengers

A shorter version of this column has been published by Axios.

“Your doctor and your nurse trusts the COVID-19 vaccine; you can too.” It’s one of the most important messages vaccine reluctant Americans can hear. They trust their doctors and their nurses and almost all of them have been vaccinated or plan to get vaccinated.

By the numbers:

  • Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, majorities of U.S. adults have said their doctors and nurses were their most trusted sources of information about the coronavirus and eight in ten have said their doctors are the ones they will turn to when deciding whether or not to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Nearly nine in ten physicians (and nurses with graduate degrees) report either already being vaccinated or plan to get a vaccine.
  • A majority of all the other health care professionals who diagnose and treat patients say they are already vaccinated or plan to be (those with bachelor’s degree: 86%; associates degrees: 68%).

Frontline health care workers who provide other forms of care, such as assisting patients with bathing, housekeeping, or clerical work, have lower levels of vaccine uptake and report the same concerns of the public generally including concerns over the possible side effects or wanting to wait and see how it works for other people. Similar to the public overall, the share of these workers who are waiting to see how the vaccine works for others will likely shrink as more of their colleagues get vaccinated.

Because they are such trusted messengers doctors and nurses are in a special position to put their voices where their arms have already been. They can get the word out to their communities that they have been vaccinated and encourage community members to get vaccinated too. This is why together with the Black Coalition Against COVID we created The Conversation, a campaign by Black doctors and nurses for Black people, soon to be followed by a similar campaign for the Latino community.

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.