U.S. surgeon general on delta variant, vaccine hesitancy and COVID long haulers

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Vivek Murthy:

Well, Judy, one of the things I learned during my time practicing medicine and working with patients from a wide variety of backgrounds and points of view is that you really have to understand where people are coming from, what their concerns are, and also who they trust.

We’re a big country. People trust different institutions, different individuals. Not everyone’s going to listen to officials from federal government or state government or local government. About 50 percent of people in polls say that they want to hear from a family member or friend as they make their decision about the vaccine.

About 80 percent of people say they want to talk to their doctor or another medical professional about making a decision. That’s why it’s so important that we keep focus on this effort to mobilize trusted messengers to help people connect with informed individuals in their communities, whether those are doctors and nurses or faith leaders or family members.

The problem we have Judy, right now is that there is a lot of misinformation floating around. Two-thirds of people who are unvaccinated either believe common myths about COVID-19 vaccine or think those myths might be true, myths like you can get COVID from the vaccine, which is absolutely not true.

So we have got to dispel that misinformation. But the most important piece here are those trusted messengers. We’re used to the notion that information is power, Judy, but what we have learned is that information alone isn’t power. Information, plus trust is what creates power.

And, in that sense, all of us have the ability to talk to our friends and family, help them get the information they need, help them go to vaccines.gov and find a place close by to get vaccinated. And that’s how we can help protect the people we love.