TYSONS CORNER, Va. – Today, the Get the Medications Right (GTMRx) Institute launched a national task force to identify and address the reasons why 45% of Americans don’t feel confident about vaccination against COVID-19. The GTMRx National Task Force: Building Vaccine Confidence in the Medical Neighborhood is designed to forge partnerships with trusted members of the medical “neighborhood” — physicians, nurses,
pharmacists, and others on the patient care team, as well as public health leaders, social workers, consumer health advocates, social marketing and community health champions — and equip them with tools and messages to build confidence in COVID-19 vaccines.
Lack of confidence in vaccines predates the pandemic. But COVID-19’s toll in illness and death, and the need to achieve broad immunity in the population to contain the coronavirus’s spread, underscores the urgency of boosting vaccine confidence as much as possible. Although an estimated two million Americans are receiving a COVID-19 vaccine every day, many are still hesitant to do so. Their concerns range from fears about side effects to lack of trust in the government and the scientific community. Addressing each concern or barrier requires a strategic approach and the engagement of trusted leaders within the medical neighborhood.
The task force will inform strategies to engage care teams at the community level to work collaboratively and communicate effectively about vaccination during current and future pandemics. It is co-chaired by three national leaders representing the nexus of health care policy, public health, and the medication safety community: Susan Dentzer, senior policy fellow at the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy; Paul W. Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon), FASHP, CEO of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, and Georges Benjamin, MD, executive director of the American Public Health Association. Dentzer will also moderate the kick-off panel, which is co-sponsored by the Bipartisan Policy Center.
The Get the Medications Right (GTMRx) Institute is a catalyst for change that brings critical stakeholders together who are bound by the urgent need to get the medications right. Convening a national conversation to build vaccine confidence is a natural step, says Katherine H. Capps, GTMRx co-founder and executive director, who is managing the taskforce’s efforts.
“The issues around building vaccine confidence are non-partisan, and we believe we can address them better by listening carefully and addressing those concerns one by one,” Capps said. “There is ample evidence that trusted voices in the medical neighborhood — from pharmacists to nurses, doctors, public health, schools, religious leaders, and consumer health advocates — can play a key role in a unified community response.”
The GTMRx National Task Force: Building Vaccine Confidence in the Medical Neighborhood will convene over the coming months to hear from expert voices offering guidance to enhance vaccine confidence in the community. This work is sponsored by a grant from Johnson & Johnson.
“Growing confidence in the current and future FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines is vital to bringing an end to the pandemic and getting our lives back to normal,” Abramowitz said. “As healthcare professionals, consumers, and public health leaders, we must continue to work together to enhance public confidence and trust in these safe and highly-efficacious vaccines. The GTMRx National Task Force: Building Vaccine Confidence in the Medical Neighborhood will serve as a visible and important means to help us achieve herd immunity and end a pandemic that has inflicted incredible harm on too many individuals, communities, and society at large.”
According to research by the Kaiser Family Foundation, there are distinct demographic divides between those who feel comfortable about receiving a COVID-19 vaccination and those who do not. Confidence is highest among those who are age 65 and older, those who are white, and who identify with the Democratic Party. It is lowest among those who are age 18 to 29, those who are Black, and those who identify as Republican. Rural residents are also less confident about vaccination than their city- or suburban-dwelling counterparts.
“The mission of public health is to fulfill society’s interest by assuring the conditions in which people can be healthy. Our goal is not only to observe barriers to health in the community but also to develop ways to address them,” Benjamin said. “Building vaccine confidence, both in the current environment and in preparation for future pandemics, is a critical need. We know we’re capable of developing life-saving vaccines within a year of identifying a new disease. Our job now is to learn from our past and bring the assurance our neighbors need about vaccine safety and efficacy.”