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USF Expert: Vaccine Education Efforts Working, But Much More To Do

Kevin Sneed, dean of USF's pharmacy school, says he has encounted many people who resisted the vaccines because they were wary of “unknowns,” but he adds engagement efforts are paying off.

Kevin Sneed, dean of the pharmacy school at the University of South Florida, has been educating the Tampa Bay community about COVID-19 vaccines since clinical trials were underway as part of an organization he directs called WE-CARE.

It encourages people of color to participate in medical research.

Sneed said many people he encountered resisted the vaccines because they were wary of “the unknowns” in terms of how they worked and how they were developed. But he said engagement efforts are paying off.

“I think people have been a little more inquisitive, they've been more willing to receive information; and health care providers and public health officials, we've been far more willing to take the time to answer those questions from people in communities,” Sneed said. “So, there has been an evolution in terms of overall trust over time that has improved.”

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Ernest Grant, the president of the American Nurses Association, is taking part in a Moderna coronavirus vaccine trial. He says he wants to increase trust in science.

Still, Sneed said there is a lot more work to do. He said he is especially concerned that false ideas that the vaccines cause infertility or involve injecting microchips into people still persist.

He said it is important to continue education efforts, but also to be transparent about any vaccine-related events that cause concern, as scientists and health officials are still learning about them.

Contributing to those education efforts, USF experts took part in a virtual event Friday. The Trust and Vaccines event featured representatives from USF’s Taneja College of Pharmacy and Bishop Center for Ethical Leadership. They discussed some of the reasons for vaccine hesitancy and explored efforts to provide credible information to the community.

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Stephanie Colombini joined WUSF Public Media in December 2016 as Producer of Florida Matters, WUSF’s public affairs show. She’s also a reporter for WUSF’s Health News Florida project.