Half of people eligible for COVID vaccines still haven’t gotten first shots. Why the drop in signups?

Written by Danielle Chiriguayo, produced by Bennett Purser

Olivia Leiu, 31, is given a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination in Los Angeles, California, U.S., April 12, 2021. Photo by REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Health officials on Thursday said they’re starting to see a big slowdown in the number of people signing up to get their coronavirus vaccination shots. Appointments at LA County clinics for the first dose are down by 50%. And the mass vaccination site at Dodger Stadium will close at the end of May. 

LA County public health director Barbara Ferrer spoke earlier this week about hesitancy: “This is a new virus and it's a new vaccine, and I think it makes a lot of sense that people might feel scared, and that they might want a lot of information, and that they might have wanted to wait and take their time and see how this is going. So I think we also need to probably have patience.”

In LA County, about half of people ages 16 and older have had at least one dose so far. This trend is playing out across California and the United States. 

An initial decline in vaccination rates is expected at this point, according to Dr. Edward Jones-Lopez, an assistant professor at the Keck School of Medicine at USC. But he says it’s still a concerning issue that needs to be addressed. 

He believes the drop may be driven by two-fold hesitancy. There’s the well-organized anti-vaccination movement that’s existed since the 1960s, plus specific concerns over how quickly new treatments were developed.

“It's a very well-funded and organized group that is promoting a lot of this information in multiple languages across the internet. And unfortunately, some people listen to these opinions. That's what it is. It's opinion-based commentary, as opposed to data-based commentary. And it's almost impossible to eliminate.”

He says it’s important to remember that the COVID vaccines were developed with the same timeline as past vaccines in clinical use.
“And we have several doses of them being used. In the case of previous vaccines, billions of doses, and they've shown to be both very effective and safe. … All of the vaccines up to now have been shown to be very effective or quite effective and very, very safe.”

Credits

Guest:

  • Dr. Edward Jones Lopez - MD, MS, assistant professor of medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at University of Southern California; investigator of the AstraZeneca vaccine trial in the U.S.