Dr. Fauci, DPH commissioner talk about COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in Georgia

ATLANTA — One of the country’s top doctors and the state’s top health official are reacting to a recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll that showed one in four Georgians say they will not get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Channel 2′s Jorge Estevez spoke with Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief of the Laboratory of Immunoregulation at the National Institutes of Health, and Dr. Kathleen Toomey, Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner, about the recent poll.

According to the poll, two-thirds of Republicans who have not gotten vaccinated yet said they don’t plan on getting one at all.

“What do you say to them and how does the medical community convince them that this is the right thing to do?” Estevez asked Fauci.

“The first thing I would do is really steer away from them being a unidimensional identity as a Republican, because they were different people within the Republican Party. And you don’t want to make it a political thing. You want to say what is the reason that you as an individual -- and they are individuals -- you don’t want to group them all in one,” Fauci said. “There has to be a reason not to be vaccinated. You just can’t say I don’t want to get vaccinated. Why not? Do you think it is not safe? Do you think it is not effective? Or do you think it doesn’t make any difference to anybody except yourself and you don’t want anybody telling you what to do?”


Estevez also asked Fauci a question from a Channel 2 Action News viewer.

“We have a viewer question here from Tiffany: ‘If I am a COVID long-hauler and still have antibodies, what effect will a vaccine have on me and if it is lying dormant, would I reinfect myself?’”

“There is very, very firm data that indicates that the response of vaccination in a person who has recovered from COVID is or is the magnitude better than the actual response to just recovering from infection,” Fauci said. “So the boost you get with the vaccine is going to be very good at protecting you from any type of a chance of reflection. Also, there’s anecdotal data, and it is only anecdotal because there has not been a study, that vaccination and some people actually improves the symptoms of long-COVID. So there’s a level of that is there.”

Toomey told Estevez that the state has done a new survey about vaccine hesitancy and said the state’s top priority should be informing people why they should get it.

“Let’s not focus so much on those (saying), ‘Heck no, I’m not going to get the vaccine.’ Let’s focus on those nearly 50% of people who have some questions and help address those questions, help work with community members,” Toomey said.

You can read more about Fauci’s comments on vaccine hesitancy in Georgia in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.