Still, some who have been hesitant to get vaccinated are changing their minds, they told ABC News.
Haifa Palazzo, a 68-year-old grandmother from Ohio, was skeptical of the vaccine, but while saying she chose to “wait and see,” she said she suffered from a COVID-19 severe and was hospitalized at the Cleveland Clinic for two months. .
She said that at one point, doctors told her family to say their final farewells. Now recovered and fully vaccinated, Palazzo encourages anyone listening to get vaccinated.
“Don’t wait,” says Palazzo. She said her previous hesitation was due to the belief that “nothing can happen to me, can it?” “
The rapid development of the COVID-19 vaccine has been possible thanks to decades of previous scientific studies demonstrating safety, as well as an unprecedented multibillion-dollar commitment from the federal government to accelerate research.
“If I could spare one person what I went through, it was worth it,” Palazzo said. “And then if they get the vaccine, maybe they’ll tell a friend or family member and maybe it can spread from there. I hope and I hope.
Dr Julius Johnson, nurse practitioner and president of the Greater NYC Black Nurses Association, had another concern in mind.
“As a black person, I hesitate about health care,” Johnson said, “because of the way we’ve been treated historically.” The history of the United States is replete with examples of black and minority Americans subjected to unethical medical treatment.
Although initially skeptical of COVID-19 vaccines, Johnson said he felt comforted once he got a better understanding of how vaccines were tested – in more than 100,000 people among the three vaccines – and saw people in her community get vaccinated.
The vaccines were also tested on a diverse group, comprising tens of thousands of volunteers of all races, ethnicities and different life experiences.
In the end, Johnson said he decided it was more important to set an example for his family, community and fellow healthcare workers. Now he has said he educates others who are hesitant to get vaccinated and told ABC News he wants members of his community to understand “the truth about vaccines … how effective they are … how they were created” and ‘the positivity that’ surrounds them ‘. He said he wanted people to make an “informed decision”.
Johnson said he is also helping build confidence by running a local vaccination site.
“They look at us and say it’s good to see someone who looks like us… who helps build confidence,” Johnson said. “It is our people who vaccinate us, we can trust them.”
For others, the reluctance was not fueled by the story, but rather by lingering questions about the vaccines themselves.
This was the case with a Mississippi nurse practitioner named Smith, who found out she was pregnant two months before COVID-19 vaccines were available. She has asked ABC News not to release her full name for reasons of confidentiality.
“I was hesitant at first,” she said. “There have been no studies specifically with pregnant women. There just wasn’t enough research behind this part. “
But as new data emerged showing the vaccines were safe for pregnant mothers and their babies, Smith said she decided it was riskier to remain unvaccinated and vulnerable to COVID-19. Meanwhile, she said she was encouraged by the evidence that vaccinated pregnant mothers pass some of their antibodies to their babies during pregnancy and through breast milk.
“If there was a chance that I could give him my vaccine antibody, I would prefer to do so,” she says. “I feel more protected. I did what I needed to do to protect myself and my baby. “
Alex Carlson, a 26-year-old physiotherapist with lupus, said she was worried about how the vaccine would affect her immune system. Like pregnant women, many people with immunocompromised diseases were excluded from initial vaccine studies.
Carlson said she found solace in reviewing the research herself, not relying solely on the media, and speaking with colleagues as well as her rheumatologist who was “very supportive, even despite the lack of research for immunocompromised people, ”she said.
“And so I figured it out,” Carlson said of the COVID vaccine.
While the extent of protection for people with compromised immunity is not well understood, medical experts agree that some protection against COVID-19 through vaccination is better than nothing. Carlson told ABC News she was to sign a waiver acknowledging the lack of research in people with compromised immune systems when she was vaccinated.
“But I really had no problem signing this because, like I said, I had done enough research… I felt good one way or the other,” she said. declared.
Others delayed vaccination because they felt unlikely to become seriously ill from COVID-19. Jacob Clifton, who works as a crop consultant in Arkansas, said he delayed signing up for a shot when he became eligible because he saw himself in a low risk job and as a youngster. and healthy – but healthy people can still easily pass viruses onto others, experts say.
“I just wanted… people higher on the list to get it before me,” Clifton said.
Meanwhile, his wife Hailey said she was worried because she had heard unfounded rumors that the vaccine could lead to infertility.
In the end, they both got vaccinated. Emergency room nurse Hailey Clifton said she relied on advice from colleagues at the hospital, as well as advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
His workplace, St. Bernard’s Medical Center, also hosted a video conference with staff and his OBGYN department to provide vaccine training.
Now, the Cliftons have told ABC they no longer have to worry about being around their almost 2-year-old son and family.
Ohio’s grandmother Haifa Palazzo said it made sense for some people to have questions about COVID-19 vaccines. But relying on accurate information and reliable sources can help people make informed decisions and end the pandemic, “so that we can get closer to our normal lives and activities,” she said. .
“We have to be there just like the soldiers were there for the war,” Palazzo said. “The nurses were there on the front line, the doctors, we have to do our part, which is to get vaccinated.”
Dr Jade A. Cobern, a Baltimore pediatric resident entering the field of preventive medicine, is a contributor to the ABC News Medical Unit.