San Diego doctors address COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy

Posted at 5:53 PM, May 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-13 20:53:29-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - About 1.7 million San Diegans have received at least one dose of a two-dose vaccine, and more than 1.2 million are now fully vaccinated, but it’s still not enough.

Some doctors worry some are still on the fence about getting a shot or may not feel the need to because fewer people are testing positive for COVID-19.

It appears that most people who wanted to get vaccinated already did. Compared to a few months ago, it’s much easier to book a vaccination appointment or just walk up and get a shot.

“We had initially seen arms looking for vaccines, and now we’re looking at vaccines looking for arms,” said Dr. William Tseng, a Kaiser Permanente physician. He is also on the executive board of the San Diego County Medical Society. “There’s the group that are looking to get vaccinated, then there’s the group that don’t want to get vaccinated, and then there’s that in-between group.”

Tseng says one of the most important ways to convince people to get vaccinated is to answer their questions directly through forums and Q & A sessions.

“We cannot ignore people’s fears; they are real. They are real concerns that we need to address each and every one of them,” said Tseng.

Many places have also started offering incentives to make the vaccine sound a little more appealing, like free food or a free beer. A statewide lottery program was announced in Ohio, offering vaccinated residents a chance to win a million dollars.

On Amir, a marketing professor at UC San Diego’s Rady School of Management, said incentives could be an effective way to reach some of those who are reluctant, so is allowing vaccinated people to return to normalcy quickly. He said the best bet is to focus on a well-thought-out approach using behavioral science.

“I would welcome larger policy efforts that do involve what we know on how to motivate people to change their behavior when it comes to something so important,” Amir explained.

Tseng said that different vaccine distribution strategies are being considered across the country, including sending vaccines directly to primary care offices.

“Maybe you have that trust; maybe you know that doctor better,” said Tseng.