Consumer trust in medicine

The first COVID-19 vaccine, the Pfizer-BioNTech (now marketed as Comirnaty), was authorized for emergency use for the general public by the FDA in 2021. Later that year, the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines received the FDA’s emergency use authorization as well.

According to Our World in Data, approximately 80% of Americans have received at least the first dose of a COVID vaccine as of November 2022.

The COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines have brought the debate surrounding all kinds of immunizations to center stage and demonstrated the influence media has over consumer confidence in vaccines, according to Dr. Suzanne Wada, medical director at Dallas County Health and Human Services.

Dr. Wada oversaw and worked at the Dallas County vaccination drive-through in Fair Park during the spring of 2021.

“I think we really tried to stress that the benefits of getting vaccinated outweighed the side effects,” she said.

According to the CDC, side effects of COVID-19 vaccines are self-limited, and the majority are extremely mild, including fatigue, headaches and fevers.

“Obviously, there were some more well-publicized, more significant side effects with certain vaccines,” Wada said, “but the numbers were very, very low.”

Sophomore Mae Flanagan received her vaccine in April 2021 but said she had some hesitation because of the varying information she had seen on social media.

“I was thinking of all the things that could go wrong, like ‘what if they came up with this too quickly,’” Flanagan said.

However, she decided to get her vaccine early to make traveling easier, especially during her lacrosse season “It’s a lot less of a hassle to be vaccinated than it is to quarantine every time want to go somewhere or do something,” Flanagan said.

In 2021, many restaurants and public spaces required that visitors have proof of vaccination. Flights and other forms of public transportation mandated that all users wear masks to prevent the spread of the disease, beginning Jan. 2021 and ending April 2022.

Contrasting opinions and misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines spread on social media platforms and news sources, potentially deterring people from getting their doses. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, approximately 1 in 6 Americans said they will “definitely not” be getting the vaccine.

“Media is a very powerful force these days, certainly social media,” Wada said. “I would hope that the media, in general, would portray honest and truthful information on the benefits of vaccination.”


In 2019, The World Health Organization declared vaccine hesitancy as one of the greatest threats to global health, even before the pandemic. Wada emphasized vaccines as an important solution in limiting the spread of preventable diseases. With vaccine hesitancy circling in American culture, the number of deaths caused by these diseases could increase significantly. She said vaccinations in general and people’s attitudes toward them have been affected greatly by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think that because COVID was so disruptive and people are so tired of it, we’re probably seeing much more vaccine hesitancy now,” Wada said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if that same sort of mentality doesn’t carry over to some degree.”

As of now, everyone over the age of six months can receive a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the FDA. Wada and Dallas County Health and Human Services have continued their vaccination campaigns, looking to educate the public about the benefits of vaccines and reduce vaccine misinformation.

“We have to continue vaccine initiatives regardless of the negativity out there,” Wada said.