Top UK doctor says trust profession over vaccinations
Members of the public should trust medical experts over vaccinations, an author for one of the world’s top medical journals said yesterday.
Kieran Walsh, the clinical director of the British Medical Journal’s BMJ Best Practice, said that more effort should be made to build trust between the medical world and the public.
He added that information about how vaccines and viruses work must be easily available to help stop the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories.
Dr Walsh said: “How we overcome vaccine hesitancy I think is one of the really key questions – and it’s overcome through knowledge and transferring knowledge and making knowledge available.
“But it’s not just knowledge – I think it’s also about trust and culture and finding out what the concerns might be in different countries or in different cultures or among different age groups and addressing them.”
Dr Walsh was speaking during a virtual panel discussion about the health of seniors during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The discussion, held yesterday on the Bermuda Health Council’s Facebook page, tackled questions around people with a variety of health problems – also known as comorbidity – and scientific knowledge of Covid-19.
Dr Walsh said that vaccine hesitancy was not a new problem or a problem specific to the Covid-19 vaccine.
He added that the same attitude had emerged over many childhood and adult vaccines, including the MMR vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella.
Dr Walsh said that the World Health Organisation had identified vaccine hesitancy as a major threat to global health in 2019.
He added that vaccines generally seemed to be “well-tolerated” around the world, but that it was still important to “drill down and ask ’what’s underneath trust?’”.
Dr Walsh said that his publication tried to ensure trust with the use of independent authors and transparency over sources.
He added: “It’s also about being transparent about how we produce the content and transparency about who the authors are.
“We ask authors whether or not they have any competing interests and then we ask them to declare then and we print any such competing interests alongside the resource.”
Dr Walsh appealed to the public to seek out peer-reviewed and verified information on the coronavirus and its vaccine and to rely on information that is updated as often as possible.
He added: “Stay informed and base all decision about healthcare on good evidence, which you can get through reliable resources.”
The panel discussion came just days after David Burt, the Premier, asked the public – and specifically Black Bermudians – to reject hesitancy around the Covid-19 vaccine just moments before he got one of the first jabs.
He said that resistance to getting the injection stemmed from “historic” and “legacy” problems, but appealed to people to research the safety of the Covid-19 vaccines.
Mr Burt added: “There are rumours and conspiracy theories spreading, but it is important to separate fact from fiction and our job is to ensure that everyone has access to accurate information so that they can make their decisions based on facts.”