Medical officials say widespread misinformation has led to vaccine hesitancy

Posted at 9:49 AM, Jul 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-23 11:08:13-04

KANSAS CITY, MO — The COVID-19 vaccines are everywhere, from your local pharmacy to your local grocery store, but one clinical psychiatrist says the fear or hesitancy to get vaccinated comes from what we view on our everyday devices.

“Unfortunately, this boils down to the wide spread of misinformation that's out there around the vaccine. I feel like we live in an age where people can go online and find what supports whatever fears they may have,” said Gregory Nawalanic, a clinical psychologist at the University of Kansas Health System.

The misinformation from social media and other platforms is something Devika Maulik, a maternal field medicine specialist at Truman Medical Center, said has led to anxiety and uncertainty in women.

“They are worried that they will take the vaccine and it will affect their pregnancy. I’m also seeing a lot of young women who are planning pregnancy and they think the vaccine is going to affect their chances of getting pregnant,” Maulik said.

However, the anxiety and uncertainty is especially impacting women from minority racial groups.

“In a lot of BIPOC communities and black communities there is a mistrust in research and it’s completely understandable. While it is difficult as a medical provider to undo centuries of mistreatment from medical research, it is easy to talk at a personal level about what I know,” Maulik said.

Kevin O’Rourke, an emergency medicine specialist at Truman Medical Centers, said talking about what he knows has helped put the importance of getting vaccinated into perspective for many of his emergency room patients that come in with COVID.

“Cases have spiked every week, cases have nearly doubled every week in Kansas city, so if not now than when and it’s only when, either you’re going to get vaccinated, or you are going to get COVID,” O’Rourke said.

O’Rourke and others hope the messages contributing to vaccine hesitancy will be fact checked to protect the entire community.

“On one side you are coming to the doctor because of whatever is going on with you, but on the other side you don’t trust me for medical advice about the vaccine. You trust Facebook or Tik Tok or whatever you might see,” O’Rourke said.