The Latest: It’s OK to feel hesitant about the Covid-19 vaccine

Alexandra Sifferlin
Medium Coronavirus Blog
3 min readOct 23, 2020


Dear Reader,

I am sure I don’t have to remind you that an election is coming up. An August poll found that more than 60% of respondents said the pandemic will heavily influence their vote.

READ: How the Election Will Impact the Covid-19 Pandemic

As a colleague recently shared, the virus doesn’t care about politics. Covid-19 will be a massive challenge for whoever is in office. The U.S. doesn’t currently have a national testing or contact tracing plan, which is unusual compared to other countries battling the virus. Over 222,000 Americans have died, and cases are ticking up again.

Read this story to learn more about how the election could impact what happens next. 🗳️

Also, I can’t wait to get a Covid-19 vaccine. Concerns are also understandable. Read more further down.

Follow our Medium Coronavirus Blog for regular updates, and read some of the essential stories we’ve curated below.

Be well,

Alexandra Sifferlin
Editor, Medium Coronavirus Blog

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What we’re talking about on the Blog:

What counts as a “close contact.” This week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its definition of “close contact” with a person infected with Covid-19. It is now 15 minutes or more of cumulative exposure to infectious individuals, within six feet, in a 24-hour period regardless of masking and whether the contact was inside or outdoors. A close contact was previously defined as 15 continuous minutes with someone who is infected. Places and people were finding ways to take advantage of that definition. For example, to avoid quarantining students, a school district in Montana came up with an idea to move students every 15 minutes. If the students are moved around within that time, then no one would be considered a “close contact” and be required to stay home if a classmate tests positive for Covid-19, the New York Times reports. The new recommendations may cut down on these loopholes. Read more.

Racial minorities need the Covid-19 vaccine the most, but prioritizing them will be difficult, writes Yasmin Tayag this week. Black, Indigenous, Latinx people and other people of color should be prioritized for a vaccine because they are dying from Covid-19 at higher rates, have less access to testing and to medical support, and have the added obstacles created by centuries of structural racism. But getting a national, race-based policy past the Supreme Court will be tricky, especially with Amy Coney Barrett on board, experts say. Read about the legal, ethical, and cultural roadblocks.

It’s normal to feel concerned about the Covid-19 vaccine. Recent survey data found that 49% of Black adults in the U.S. say they will not get the Covid-19 vaccine if it were determined to be safe by scientists and it was free. That’s reasonable. Keep in mind: People saying in surveys that they may not get a vaccine isn’t necessarily an accurate predictor of what people will do when there is a vaccine. And Black Americans’ concerns and skepticism over new vaccines are valid as there’s a long history of American health care deliberately harming Black people.

Here’s the thing: It doesn’t make much sense to ask people what they think about getting a Covid-19 vaccine when there isn’t data for an approved one for them to review. And it’s okay to have questions (here’s what to ask). Yes, vaccine hesitancy can become an issue once we have a safe and effective one, because then we want people to get it. This is why it is so important to follow the scientific process for vaccine approval and be transparent. (I, for one, can’t wait to get a Covid-19 vaccine!) Read more here.

A few more smart reads:

The Coronavirus Took Advantage of Our Weaknesses

Europe is Kinda Screwed

Flu Shot and Covid-19: Is There a Possible Interference?

Lessons From the Highs and Lows of Quarantine Life

Covid-19 and Social Media: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Let’s Flatten the Infodemic Curve

Covid’s Silent and Sinister Effect on the Married Lives of Health Care Workers

The Coronavirus Surge That Will Define the Next 4 Years (The Atlantic)

How the FDA Stood Up to the President (New York Times)



Alexandra Sifferlin
Medium Coronavirus Blog

Health and science journalist. Former editor of Medium’s Covid-19 Blog and deputy editor at Elemental. TIME Magazine writer before that