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Eastern Carolina health officials respond to vaccine hesitancy

Published: May. 10, 2022 at 8:26 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - It’s no secret that there’s skepticism surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines.

In fact, a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows one in six people say they will never get the shot. That number hasn’t budged for more than a year.

“Hesitancy to get vaccines is an age-old problem,” Dr. Paul Cook with East Carolina University Health says.

Cook specializes in infectious diseases. He does his best to reassure people who are hesitant to get vaccinated.

“I tell people that this technology - MRNA technology, primarily - that technology has been around for about 10 years, and it’s been studied in other diseases,” Cook says.

Still, it’s no surprise to Cook that one in six people say they definitely will not get the vaccine. “I don’t see this one in six number going down very much,” he says.

It can be easy to feel skeptical when vaccinated people test positive for the virus. To that, Cook has a simple response. “If somebody says ‘well, I got COVID anyway,’ I say, ‘well, you’re still alive,’” Cook says.

Onslow County health officials are always working to encourage people to protect themselves.

“We have about 68% of our total population with at least one dose,” Victoria Morales, Onslow County Health Department community relations officer says.

Morales said they try to be open and understanding to people who are unsure. “I think everybody has a little bit of a different story of why they’re not getting vaccinated or why they are now choosing to get vaccinated.”

As for the future, Cook says it will get better with time.

“We don’t give smallpox vaccines anymore. It’s because smallpox has been eliminated,” Cook says. “I don’t think we can do that with coronavirus, but if more people get vaccinated, I think it’ll be much less of a problem.”

Anyone interested in getting vaccinated should get in touch with their local health department to talk about options.

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