Listen Live

WASHINGTON — Vaccine hesitancy is still a big problem in getting people vaccinated for COVID, says Dr. Jerome Adams.

Adams returned to Washington, D.C to testify before Congress for the first time since leaving his post as U.S. Surgeon General in the Trump Administration. Adams is careful to point out that the issue is not just with people who are “anti-vax”, but also with people who have genuine concerns about COVID shots.

“Most vaccine-hesitant people simply have questions and barriers that addressed with compassion can be overcome,” Adams told the House Coronavirus Crisis Select Subcommittee.

The former Indiana State Health Commissioner didn’t sugarcoat the fact that it’s because of this vaccine hesitancy that the U.S may never achieve a 70-percent vaccination rate in the pursuit of herd immunity. He suggests a more targeted approach.

“What we need to focus on, in my opinion, is to find micro-herds, and striving to achieve overall containment through vaccination within those smaller groups,” said Adams. “That’s really where outbreaks start. Your herd could be your church, your workplace, your child’s sports team, and especially your family.”

Still, he said there are what he calls his “three misses” that need to be addressed in tackling vaccine hesitancy: misinformation, mistrust, and a misperception that access to vaccines is no longer an issue.

Adams said mistrust seems to be the most fervent of those three.

“It took five months to go from phase three trials to EUA (emergency use authorization),” Adams said. “It’s already taken longer than that to go from EUA to full licensure of these vaccines and the American public wants to know why.”

Finally, Adams says that politicians are not helping by speaking about the vaccines in political terms. He said it’s fueling mistrust in COVID vaccines by also fueling mistrust in the government. He urged lawmakers to stop playing engaging in political hyperbole with COVID vaccines.