Doctors on the front lines of combating vaccine hesitancy

Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 9:13 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The state’s health officials started saying after the first million doses were given that all the rest would be more challenging. That’s proven to be true. But the one-on-one convincing has landed where most medical decisions have always landed.

Vaccine distribution has morphed into a more personal experience. No more long lines at a drive through. Ground zero is in doctors’ offices around the state.

“We’re past the point of crashing websites trying to schedule vaccines,” said Dr. Laura Miller. “Every single patient is going to make a difference.”

Dr. Laura Miller is making it a point to bring up the topic with every patient she sees in the clinic in Prentiss.

“The biggest thing we’re doing is it’s part of our regular system,” described Miller.

“We review your medicines. We review your vital signs. ‘Hey, have you had your Covid vaccine? Let’s make sure it’s in our system.’ If they haven’t... are you thinking about getting it? Are you considering getting it? I can help you figure out if you’d like to get it or get it scheduled. It’s a pretty natural way to enter into the conversation with every patient.”

Dr. Brad Scott at Creekmore Clinic in New Albany says some patients are initiating the conversations.

“I certainly have had some that were against it and have been able to have that discussion with them and have them change their minds,” said Scott.

He says that’s why it’s important that clinics are now able to request smaller allotments of the vaccines to keep on hand.

“I think so often if you wait and say we’re going to bring you back in a week, they may not show up in a week,” he explained. “So, you need to vaccinate when they’re here and they’re agreeable to it.”

Dr. Jennifer Bryan says they celebrate the small victories and know that at the end of the day, that doctor-patient relationship of discussing medical concerns isn’t that much different than what they’ve always done.

“Each one that you can get a shot in the arm, then it’s gratifying to know that you made a difference,” said Bryan. “It’s validating to know that that’s one less person that could potentially put a strain on the healthcare system that’s already overtaxed.”

All three of those doctors say they’ve also seen an uptick in folks expressing interest in the vaccine within the last couple of weeks as the Delta variant has sparked more spread within their communities.

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