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Pittsburgh Doctor Says There Are 3 Reasons For Coronavirus Vaccine Hesitancy

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A local doctor said there are three reasons for coronavirus vaccine hesitancy. KDKA's Nicole Ford has more.

Video Transcript

RANDOLPH PETERS: It just doesn't make sense. If you want to not be restricted-- getting vaccinated. If you want the disease rates to go down and not affect other people, get vaccinated. If you don't want other people to be at risk, get vaccinated.

KRISTINE SORENSEN: Now as more vaccine appointments open up, fewer of those appointments are being filled. Does that mean there's more vaccine hesitancy? And what does it mean for herd immunity? Nicole Ford's live after getting those answers from a local doctor. Nicole.

NICOLE FORD: Kristine, we're actually at a clinic in Squirrel Hill held by Allegheny Health Network. You can see a line behind us starting to gather outside this clinic, but there are less people that are showing up to various clinics across the region. One doctor tells me that's due to three different reasons with vaccine hesitancy-- he says fear, misinformation, and distrust. And he says it's not easy to change anyone's minds on any of those three. People are still signing up, but not everyone is so quickly convinced to get a shot.

ISABLLA GIAMMATTEO: I had some family members that were hesitant, but after research came out, like-- they're all for it too.

NICOLE FORD: Dr. Randolph Peters tells me there are two levels of vaccine hesitancy or denial.

RANDOLPH PETERS: And there's just a lot of fear. There's a lot of misinformation out there that, quite frankly, is stoking those fears.

NICOLE FORD: He says there's no easy solution than to educate people and ask them to look to their doctors rather than social media. Then there is the second group.

RANDOLPH PETERS: People are tired, and they just want it to go away. And they may think maybe COVID's not that bad. It seems to get better or worse without me. Maybe if I just wait, it'll go away. Everybody else can get the vaccine. I won't bother.

NICOLE FORD: The problem is that we're seeing more hesitancy as less vaccine appointments are filling up. So far only about 40% of the state's population has gotten a first dose.

RANDOLPH PETERS: The way that you defeat pandemic, everybody in line has to be holding hands. The virus is looking for the weakest point. It's like if you're gonna be the weakest link, you're not going to social distance. If you're gonna be the point at which the virus is always breaking through, then the whole line goes down. It doesn't matter how many precautions other people take.

NICOLE FORD: Dr. Peters says it's going to be tough to get to that 95% of herd immunity if we are already slowing this quickly. So does that mean we could be wearing masks for years to come? The answer is yes.

RANDOLPH PETERS: The more people you allow to get infected, the more chance you have to make the virus smarter. So exposing more and more people without vaccinating, exposing more and more people without taking precautions is not leading to herd immunity. It's leading to a smarter virus.

NICOLE FORD: And Dr. Peter says that the smarter this virus becomes with those variants, the harder it will be to get to a return of normalcy and that herd immunity. His advice to anyone is to educate yourself. And make sure to get out to your community clinics like this one to get yourself a dose of the vaccine.

Reporting live in Squirrel Hill, Nicole Ford, KDKA News.