Doctor Questions Orange County’s Approach to Assuaging Vaccine Fears

Doctor Questions Orange County’s Approach to Assuaging Vaccine Fears
Gov. Gavin Newsom watches as the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is prepared by Director of Inpatient Pharmacy David Cheng at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center in LA on Dec. 14, 2020. (Jae C. Hong-Pool/Getty Images)

The Orange County Board of Supervisors (OCBS) has hired a public relations firm to help ease the public’s COVID-19 vaccination concerns, but the move is not sitting well with everyone.

“When you have to persuade, through public relations, to accept a vaccination, it brings up a question about public health: Since when should public health be in the public relations business?” Dr. Jeff Barke, who treats COVID-19 patients daily, told The Epoch Times.

“Public health should be providing the public with science and data and broad scientific and health recommendations. We should not be turning the public health department into an infomercial-type publicity machine.”

Orange County supervisors approved the hiring of Idea Hall public relations firm in a 3–1 vote Jan. 12 in an effort to help officials with a mass vaccination effort.

Supervisor Don Wagner, who opposed the contract, said he wanted to wait at least until a detailed budget was released for the project. He also made the case that the county's public information officers could do the public relations work at no extra cost.

Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, however, said the time to hire the firm is now. County officials are already stretched thin and need extra help, she said.

The motion passed as Orange County officials prepared to launch the county’s first super vaccination site at Disneyland. Officials said they’re currently aiming to vaccinate about 3,000 people per day, but ultimately hope to inoculate up to 8,000 residents daily.

An Orange County Health Care Agency report, titled COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy, was given to Orange County COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force officials for review prior to the Jan. 12 discussion.

It outlines tendencies of certain demographic categories, such as age, ethnicity, and education regarding acceptance of the vaccine.  It wasn't clear whether the report factored into the supervisors' decision.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have deemed FDA-approved vaccines to be safe and effective. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has also gone on the record to ensure the public that the vaccines are safe.

Not everyone is so sure.

An Orange County resident who suffers from an auto-immune disease and wished to remain anonymous told The Epoch Times that a flu vaccine she took about 30 years ago resulted in bronchitis and various other complications.

She said she was on antibiotics for three months after taking the vaccine.

“I’ve never been the same since I got the flu vaccine, and that’s what put me on the path of looking into vaccines,” she said. “Vaccines do cause your immune system to go into overdrive and attack your cells.”

She said she, too, was uncomfortable with the hiring of a public relations firm to comfort the public about the vaccine.

“I believe we all have an innate God-given intuition, and the fact that you have to hire a PR firm to convince people to take it shows there are problems. We don’t know that much about COVID-19. This vaccine was made available in the shortest time in history. It just seems a little forced and dangerous for people that might not want to have it.

“I would do your research before taking the vaccine.”