Americans trust their doctors. An NPR/Ipsos survey found that 85% of adults trusted their personal doctor — with 84% of Republicans, 86% of independents and 89% of Democrats agreeing. This trust is needed to combat vaccine hesitancy, especially among rural Americans and Black adults, where vaccine skepticism remains high.

Rural Americans are particularly hesitant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. In a recent survey, 35% of rural Americans said they would “probably” or “definitely” choose not to be vaccinated — a nine-point differential from their urban counterparts. Yet, rural Americans are just as likely as their urban and suburban peers to know someone who tested positive or died from COVID-19. This data suggests that there are other reasons for their hesitancy. Many rural Americans are increasingly distrustful of the mainstream media, academic experts, and perceived liberal elites. Moreover, they believe that urbanites and suburbanites greatly exaggerated the pandemic.

Surprisingly, polling suggests that the same percentage of Black adults and rural Americans are hesitant to receive the vaccine. Surveys show that 35% of Black adults will “probably” or “definitely” not get the vaccine. Yet, the rationale for this vaccine hesitancy is different from that of rural Americans — namely, due to the historic systemic racial bias in the medical establishment. Like many rural citizens, nearly half of the Black adults surveyed who were hesitant toward the COVID-19 vaccine said they simply don’t trust vaccines in general. Subsequently, polls found that 71% of Black adults feared the side effects of the vaccines and 50% feared the possibility of getting COVID-19 from the shot. It seems like information and reassurance from a trusted source — such as a primary care physician already in the community — could assuage these concerns.

Americans trust their doctors to do the right thing. By nature, patients trust their physicians with their most intimate medical information. That trust is needed now more than ever. Allowing physicians to play a more prominent role in administering the COVID-19 vaccine makes sense and will save lives.

Here’s a link to the piece in USA Today.