29 Dec Veterinarians’ Role in the COVID-19 Vaccine Discussion
By Jo-ell Carson, Executive Director, Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association
Vaccines don’t save lives, vaccinations do. We have all heard it. And, we have heard that the speed at which the COVID-19 vaccines have been developed has raised concerns. Regardless of our personal opinions, the goal is for everyone to make a well-informed decision as the vaccine becomes widely available. That is where you, as a trusted medical professional, comes in – helping to educate on how vaccines become approved.
COVID-19 Vaccine Outside the Medical Profession
For many people, the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine is largely an unknown. It can be intimidating and scary. The general public may not truly understand what Emergency Use Authorization means. Chances are, they have never read a clinical study. Most information is coming from three-minute updates on local and national news, postings on social media, or discussions with their friends. This is how many people outside the medical profession will decide on whether to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The same is not true of the veterinary profession.
COVID-19 Vaccine Within the Veterinary Profession
In my short time with the WVMA, I have had the privilege to talk to some veterinarians about the COVID-19 vaccine. I have had the opportunity to listen while many of you discuss the vaccine amongst yourselves. You approach it from a very scientific, data-driven, and well-informed medical perspective.
Of course you do. You hold advanced medical degrees. You are immersed in science daily. You understand the terminology, the process and safety measures needed to bring a vaccine to market. On the topic of vaccines, you are more educated and more informed than the general public. A public who is suffering from information overload.
What Is Your Role?
Within your circle of trust, you are a voice of reason. Now is the time to generate positive grassroots education. Your friends, family, employees or acquaintances may not know what news source to trust, but they do trust you. They trust you to care for their animals. They trust your medical and scientific opinion beyond just the veterinary practice. And while COVID-19 vaccines are a touchy topic, this is when your circle needs you most.
Your role is what it always has been – to educate. Educate on how vaccines work. If you want to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine, view our free webinar with Dr. James Conway, a top infectious disease expert in Wisconsin, that is listed in the Education menu at https://www.wvma.org. Dr. Conway did a remarkable job summarizing the science, the status, and the safety measures. He discussed the meaning of Emergency Use Authorization and assured us that safety measures were not shortened.
You have been in these tough spots before: “What would you do if he were your animal? Would you spend the money on the surgery? Would you proceed with the euthanasia?” At the end of the day, each individual will decide whether to receive a vaccination. But before that decision, your friend came to you for your trusted opinion. Educate with the credibility, honesty and care you approach any other part of your daily life. It could, literally, make all the difference in the world.