Coronavirus Digital Discussion: Vaccine hesitancy among Medicaid members

COVID-19 Vaccine

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Now that the COVID-19 vaccine is available to everyone, not everyone wants it.

During our Coronavirus Digital Discussion, Dr. Catherine Brisland, Interim Vice President of Medical Affairs for Medicaid & Long Term Services with Optima Health, talked about hesitancy, especially among the Medicaid members.

“There are a lot of rumors going around and one of the reasons I wanted to come here today is to allay a lot of those fears,” she told WAVY.

Vaccine hesitancy, Dr. Brisland said, is seen across the board in all age groups. ” I think it’s distrust. I think it’s we’re in a special time right now; this has never happened before.”

At Optima Health, they are finding people afraid of the unknown, afraid of getting sick after the shot, and some who are basically waiting for their doctor to prescribe it. “A lot of members, from what I’m reading, if the physician hasn’t actually told them to get the vaccine they hesitate getting it until they find out from their primary care physician,” Dr. Brisland told WAVY.

Many Medicaid members she said also have not gone online to find out about the vaccine, possibly due to of lack of internet access.

Dr. Brisland said Optima is sending out mailers to help educate people, working with the Virginia Department of Health to make members aware of vaccination sites.

Optima is also offering rides to clinics for those who need one. To schedule a ride, members can call 1-855-880-3480 (TTY: 711) 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday or schedule a trip through the online member portal at member.southeastrans.com. (The transportation benefit is not available to FAMIS plan members.)

Above all, Dr. Brisland wants patients to know they can trust the vaccine is safe. “Myself and all of my colleagues have received the vaccination and all four of my children have received- three of my children have- and my 16-year-old daughter is signed up to receive the vaccination this week.”

BELOW: Watch the full Coronavirus Digital Discussion.

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