Why doctors say their relationship with patients is crucial to getting people vaccinated

A vaccine being administered to a patient.
A vaccine being administered to a patient.(KEYC News 12)
Published: May. 4, 2021 at 10:36 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - In order to get closer to herd immunity, some people who are hesitant to take the COVID-19 vaccine will need to get the shot. For many people, it’s helpful to have conversations with the doctors they trust because of years of building a relationship - their primary care physicians.

As Virginia’s vaccine rollout moves forward, more patients are learning about the shots from the doctors they trust most.

“I think most primary care physicians pride themselves on the relationship that they have with their patients,” said Dr. Lindsey Neal, who works with Charlottesville Direct Primary Care. “For me, it’s super important to kind of know the journey.”

Dr. Neal’s patients’ journeys have led many of them to her office, where they ask questions about the shot. Even if they come in hesitant, she still preaches the vaccine’s safety and efficacy.

“Every time I see them I say ‘I’m going to offer it to you, I’m going to tell you why I think it’s important, and you’re just going to have to say no every time,’” she said.

She has convinced people to get the vaccine and has even walked them through potential side effects. She says the COVID shot may be new, but these conversations are not.

“Add one additional vaccine conversation to the big mix of vaccine conversations that we have daily,” Neal said.

Dr. Paige Perriello is a pediatrician with Pediatric Associates of Charlottesville. She says there’s a familiarity with your pediatrician giving you a shot.

“They may not really always want the shot, although we’re hearing that a lot of kids are pretty excited for this one, but they know what to expect,” Perriello said.

As 12- to 15-year-olds may soon be eligible, these trusted patient-doctor relationships will only become more important.

“This is their medical home,” she said. “We’ve been seeing these families since their kids were little babies, and followed them all the way through all the things that have happened to them.”

Dr. Periello says it is smart to let children get the shot at a doctor’s office, which is where they feel more comfortable, as opposed to large mass vaccination sites.

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