The epidemic of misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines has contributed to the tragic loss of life for an untold number of our fellow citizens. This “misinfodemic” spread just as rapidly as the virus. Rumors and incorrect information have convinced far too many to remain unvaccinated. Today, Alabama is the least vaccinated state in the nation. The consequences have been devastating.
The answer to misinformation is accurate information. My fellow doctors and I throughout Alabama are working to provide accurate information to as many as we can with one goal in mind: saving lives. We are encouraging everyone who has questions or concerns about the vaccines to discuss them with medical doctors. The doctor-patient relationship is based on trust and confidentiality, and you can be confident that physicians will use all our training, knowledge and experience to give you honest, reliable answers based on scientific evidence.
Through the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, we volunteered to answer viewers’ questions about COVID and the vaccines at television stations in Birmingham, Montgomery, Mobile, Huntsville and Dothan. There we answered nearly 1,000 phone calls and were able to reach an audience of 670,000 Alabamians. We were grateful for this opportunity to work with these TV partners to answer questions, ally fears and encourage people to get vaccinated.
Alabama physicians are also hosting a weekly COVID update on Facebook sponsored by the Medical Association. Every Thursday at 4 p.m., State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris and other physicians appear live on Facebook to discuss the latest information on COVID and answer questions that are submitted by people online. People have asked about the development of the vaccines, whether masking is a good idea for students, how the vaccines are safe for pregnant women, and other concerns that are on people’s minds.
It’s perfectly normal to have questions and to want answers. Doctors recognize that getting vaccinated is a deeply personal decision, and we respect those who simply want more information before making this decision.
Having questions isn’t bad. Having COVID is bad. Spreading the virus to others is bad. Even for those who do recover from the virus, many are experiencing serious and lingering health issues such as lung problems, joint pain, fatigue, confusion and an inability to concentrate. Some report to doctors that they simply don’t feel like themselves anymore.
Don’t let rumors or something you read on social media determine whether to get vaccinated. Instead, check with your personal physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, you may know a physician or other trusted health care professional from church or in your extended family or in your neighborhood to whom you could speak. Please do so. I’m confident they will tell you the vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and your family from COVID, which is great news because the vaccines are safe, free and readily available. If you have no medical professional you feel you can turn to, please join us on Facebook this Thursday at 4 p.m. and ask questions at www.facebook.com/MedicalAssnAlabama.
Don’t let vaccine hesitancy become vaccine regret. Ask questions and get the facts.