Averting a COVID-19 vaccination crisis will take careful communication

Illustration by Ana Kova

President Donald Trump’s relentless talk about interference with the COVID-19 vaccine approval process is setting the stage for a vaccination crisis. Even before a vaccine has been approved, public health experts are watching as confidence in a hypothetical vaccine plummets — and they’re already trying to figure out how to win back the public’s trust.

In May, 72 percent of people said that they would get vaccinated, according to a Pew Research Center survey. By September, only half of people said that they would. That drop is partly driven by the swirling drama around the still-unproven vaccines. Data and study protocols that normally wouldn’t draw much attention are subject to intense scrutiny.

Now, many people who are normally…

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