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Michigan Medicine

A Minute with Marschall

Michigan Answers: Our Best Solution to Vaccine Hesitancy

May 10th, 2021

You have probably seen our new branding campaign, Michigan Answers, on local TV, and our campaign anthem video. While this campaign focuses on our exceptional patient care, innovative research and high academic standards, Michigan Answers is also the best way to address the latest obstacle in our fight against this pandemic – vaccine hesitancy.  

When people have concerns or fears about vaccines, they have questions. We have the answers. 

Throughout this pandemic, before a vaccine was even available, members of our communities looked to us for answers. They sought our guidance, based on data, scientific knowledge and as the subject matter experts, on how to best survive this infectious disease and navigate through these challenging times.

Now we have the opportunity to lead our communities out of this crisis, in a thoughtful and caring way.

How can we do this? By sharing our answers, and our resources.

  • First, it starts with a simple question. So many clinicians have told me when they have the opportunity, they will humbly ask a patient, “Have you gotten the vaccine?” If they seem hesitant, it’s important to acknowledge their fears, or concerns and help them consider these facts:
    • Getting vaccinated is critical to not only protecting you but your family and friends. 
    • According to the CDC, vaccines are safe, effective and our best defense against preventing illness and hospitalizations.
    • Vaccinations are critical to achieve widespread immunity to end the pandemic.
  • If you know someone who is still on the fence and needs more information, share this YouTube video where two Michigan Medicine experts: Dr. Payal Patel, of the Division of Infectious Disease and Dr. Diane Harper, of the Department of Family Medicine, address some common concerns.
  • The Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation (IHPI) held a very insightful virtual conversation with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent, and Dr. Preeti Malani, U-M’s Chief Health Officer. During the discussion, Dr. Gupta shared research that suggests that those who are hesitant are more likely to be swayed by members of their medical team.  All the more reason to use our influence when we can.
  • If you sense this hesitancy from your co-workers, we are grateful to our vaccine ambassadors who have volunteered to facilitate a discussion with your team about the importance of getting vaccinated. They are:
  • Dr. Cinti was also on hand to answer COVID-19 questions on a recent Wrap Podcast.

As our Vaccine Ambassador Dr. Njira Lugogo said, “It is hard to change people’s minds but I think that if I’m able to change one person’s mind, that person may talk to someone they are close to and they will persuade another person and it will have a ripple effect.”

Let’s all work together to generate that ripple effect throughout our community. They have questions and we have Michigan Answers.

Why did you get the vaccine? How did you convince a loved one, close friend or patient to get theirs? Share your story in the discussion below.  

6 Comments

  • When the vaccine first came out, I was leery of getting it. I was concerned that there were insufficient data on its safety, so I went to the safety studies themselves and read everything I could find from reputable sources on the vaccines’ side effects, safety, efficacy, etc. After reading these data, I determined the vaccine was safe and the new type of vaccine was no more dangerous than any other, and possibly less so. It was highly effective as well. So I decided to get the Pfizer vaccine. I spoke to family and friends and shared what I learned and many of them decided to move forward with vaccination as well.

    • Marschall Runge

      Thank you for sharing your story, Lynn. I really appreciate that you were up front with your concerns, that you decided to do your own investigation into the facts, and then you shared what you learned with your friends and family. Thanks for serving our community and helping to keep all of us healthy and safe.

  • This is a great list of recommendations – and another resource to consider sharing is this “mythbuster” piece that we first shared on the Michigan Health Blog in December, and that we recently updated: https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/wellness-prevention/not-sure-about-covid-19-vaccine-get-facts-then-decide .

    It addresses many of the claims people may have heard on social media or through word of mouth, giving factual information in a non-judgmental way. It’s been viewed more than 410,000 times since publication, and comes up high in Google search results.

    If you or someone you know has heard other claims that aren’t addressed in this piece, please email Ask-MichMed@med.umich.edu and we’ll do our best to address them in a future update.

    The Michigan Health Blog, written by members of the Michigan Medicine Dept. of Communication, has several other pieces about COVID vaccination that may also be useful. We hope everyone can use them in communicating to others about the vaccine!

    • Marschall Runge

      Kara, thanks for that good catch on the mythbuster piece. To be honest, the communications team, and our group of dedicated physicians and researchers, provide so many resources and supportive data on this subject, it is hard to keep track of it all. I’m proud of all of you. And thanks for offering to continue to follow up on busting any future myths! Together we can build immunity throughout our communities.

  • In addition to the excellent resources listed, Health Behavior experts say it is important to ask why a person is hesitant. It appears there are many reasons for vaccine hesitancy and our response may be more effective if we understand their reasons – doubts about efficacy or safety, religious concerns, political beliefs, equity concerns, or just not sure. I had 2 high risk patients who just wanted to check with me about whether it was right for them – then they got the vaccine right away. Another patient was very concerned about fetal tissue used in the vaccine development process. Another mentioned logistic difficulties but then admitted it was general fear. As the Blog above sates, it starts with asking humbly, but not just “did you get it?” We should also ask why.

    • Marschall Runge

      I agree, John. There are some people who seem very resolute in their decision to not get a vaccine but many more are sitting on the fence, in that “moveable middle.” We, working in a highly reputable health care system, can have the influence, and knowledge, to persuade them, once we understand what they are concerned about. Getting to the why can be very helpful. Thanks for your insights.

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