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California Doctors Prepare for Vaccine Discussions With Dubious Patients

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As California begins distributing its first tranche of the COVID-19 vaccine, doctors across the state are preparing to talk to potentially resistant patients.

Dr. Shannon Connolly, a family physician, says vaccine education occurs daily in her Orange County clinic, usually about the flu shot. But the coronavirus vaccine is going to require a new level of convincing.

“Because the pandemic has become so deeply politicized in our country, patients are much more distrustful of, or will be much more distrustful of, the COVID-19 vaccine than they have been historically of other vaccines," Connolly said.

In May, 72% of Americans said they would get a COVID-19 vaccine. By November, that rate had dropped to 60%, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

“I think they're afraid that the politicization of the pandemic has resulted in the development of an unsafe product,” said Connolly.

She said she’s been spending extra time studying the current vaccine trials so she can assure her patients they’re safe.

Organizations such as the California Medical Association are creating resources to help physicians prepare to talk to vaccine-hesitant patients.

Dr. Richard Pan, a Democratic state senator from Sacramento and an advocate for stricter immunization policies, says there’s a lot of false information about the COVID-19 vaccine online.

“The spread of mis- or disinformation does have a cost to it," he said. "And part of the cost is the time [of] health professionals, who are certainly willing to do it. But it takes them away from other things ... talking about things like nutrition or the child's development."

In California, the vaccine will first be offered to health care providers and essential workers before it’s made more widely available to the general public.

Sammy Caiola, CapRadio 

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