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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

Vaccine hesitancy, access main concerns today

Vaccine hesitancy, a real challenge

MANILA – A ranking official from the Global COVID Response and health Security of the U. S. State Department admitted vaccine hesitancy is a real challenge everywhere.

Ms. Gayle E. Smith, in a telephonic press briefing hosted by the U.S. Department of State’s Brussels Media Hub said they are dealing with the problem at two levels.

She said there is a lot of hesitancy because people just need basic information.

“They need to be reassured that vaccines are safe, they need to understand how they work and so there’s a lot of work that we can’t do by just putting the science and the facts out there,” she said. She added the United States of America works with local communities so that trusted panelists are able to validate.

“When you hear about people getting their photographs taken when they get the vaccine to try to reassure people,” she explained.

Ms. Smith said the second issue has something to do with a lot of misinformation as there are people deliberately trying to make the case against vaccines which is harder to counter.

“Our approach is to put the facts and the science,” she explained. Ms. Smith emphasized people who advocate for the vaccines need to be inoculated, especially with the Delta variant where it is extremely dangerous for people without vaccines.

She also served as Special Assistant to president Obama and Senior Director for Development and Democracy at the National Security Council, where she helped lead the U.S. and global response to the Ebola crisis in 2014 and 2015. She was Special Assistant to President Clinton and Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council. Prior to her government service, she was also a journalist.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Konyndyk, Executive Director of the USAID COVID-19 Task Force and Senior Advisor to the USAID Administrator said they are aware of problems related to vaccine accessibility and they are exerting efforts to deliver vaccines to people in extremely vulnerable conditions.

“They need confidence and information in addition to access. We are focusing on the last mile delivery and that last mile accessibility so that people can lead normal lives, and they are supported and enabled,” he said.

He said they see in numerous countries around the world growing food insecurity, growing extreme poverty which he described as “acute in humanitarian environments” as there are risks to famine. (Melo M. Acuña)

Gayle E. Smith, Coordinator for Global COVID Response and Health Security, U.S. Department of State. (U.S. Department of State photo)

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