Researchers believe trust is important when increasing COVID-19 vaccinations. As long as people who are not vaccinated have access to care providers and are open to learning more about vaccines, researchers say.
At least 7 in 10 Americans trust doctors, nurses and pharmacists to do what's right for them and their families either most or all of the time, according to the poll from the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
This poll shows that both Democrats and Republicans, men and women, as well as white, black and Hispanic Americans, have high levels of trust.
Michelle Strollo, senior vice president of NORC's Health Research Group, stated that when people receive treatment or services from a doctor, or nurse, trust is built and they tend to return to the providers when they have more questions or need further help.
She said, "Public health officials should really look at doctors, nurses, and pharmacists as the megaphone to convey the importance of getting vaccinated."
Polling from the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation in June also showed people trusted doctors for information about the vaccine more than other sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government's top infectious disease expert.
COVID-19 case levels are soaring across the country, driven by a highly contagious virus variant that mostly infects unvaccinated people, according to public health experts. President Joe Biden and other leaders have appealed to Americans for vaccinations.
The COVID-19 vaccines have been widely available since spring, and the CDC reports that 71% of U.S. adults have received at least one dose.
Paul Vaitkus, a retired cardiologist, said that he encouraged many patients to get the vaccine, some of whom he has been seeing for years. He believes they listened.
The Gurnee resident, 62, said that he was a doctor and knew his patient. "They sized me up eye-to-eye," he added. They know I am honest."
Although care providers could encourage people to get vaccinations, the country's fragmented healthcare system is a hindrance.
According to Liz Hamel (director of Kaiser's survey research and public opinion), vaccination rates are very low among uninsured people.
She said, "Those are the same people that are less likely to be regular health care, to have those interactions between doctors and providers."
This is also true for younger adults who have lower vaccination rates. They are less likely than older adults to visit a doctor or receive preventive care such as annual checkups.
Furthermore, simply getting someone to a doctor's clinic or drugstore does not guarantee that they will be vaccinated.
Hamel pointed out that vaccine attitudes have become so politicized, that people who trust doctors to provide advice on other matters may not be open for more information about shots.
She said, "I believe some people, based upon politics, have completely closed themselves off."
According to the APNORC poll, doctors enjoy a high level of trust and support federal funding to increase the number of physicians. Only 2 out 10 Americans support increased doctor's pay through government funding. About half of Americans believe doctors get paid fairly.
However, the majority of Americans, both Democrats and Republicans, believe nurses and health care aides should be paid more.
The poll shows no significant shifts in opinion about health care policies. This includes the Affordable Care Act, single-payer health systems, and public options.