ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) -- A vaccine against COVID-19 is critical to making Americans feel safe to return to school and work, but increasing numbers say people are unlikely to take the vaccine once it is developed.

Public health officials note the anti-vaccination growth with alarm.

First doctors said it quietly, but now with greater urgency particularly in populations with high numbers of African Americans and Hispanic residents. Vaccination rates among those communities are already lower for other highly infectious diseases including measles, mumps and whooping cough.

"People die of flu! Children die of Flu. Right? We have to get the vaccines to help ourselves," says Pediatrician Hansa Bhargava bluntly. "Just like we want a COVID-19 vaccine to come out to help us."

She is seeing cases in her own practice that keep her awake at night.

"A baby who was 3 weeks old who got pertussis because her 12-year-old sister was not vaccinated. She brought pertussis home to her. These are the stories that move me as a pediatrician and also as a mom!," says Dr. Bhargava.

COVID’s forced shutdowns of medical clinics is making it harder for parents to vaccinate their children against common childhood diseases. In Atlanta, school systems enforce vaccinations, but closed schools mean that is suspended. Now public health workers say a change must come through an active campaign to educate everyone on the critical nature of vaccinations, starting with the apparently common fear that a vaccine may actually transmit the virus.

Researchers routinely explain transmission through the virus is not possible simply because it is not alive. They offer this description instead:

"Genetic material from the coronavirus is injected into a weakened version of the common cold virus. The modified virus mimics COVID19, kickstarting the immune system to attack if the real COVID enters the body.”

So, as the race to develop a safe reliable vaccine heats up, a second race begins for public health leaders. It is a race to convince the doubtful to trust it.

Copyright 2020 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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